Portugal vs Switzerland match preview: World Cup 2022 round of 16

Ronaldo will spearhead Portugal’s attack as they look to overcome a well-organised Switzerland side.

Cristiano Ronaldo #7
Cristiano Ronaldo, right, has scored one goal and Bruno Fernandes, left, has scored two so far in the World Cup [File: Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Who: Portugal vs Switzerland

Where: Lusail Stadium

When: December 6, 10pm (19:00 GMT)

Portugal and Switzerland have already faced each other twice this year in the Nations League, winning one game apiece.

A Cristiano Ronaldo brace helped Portugal, ranked nine in the world, outclass Switzerland 4-0 in early June. But just a week later, the Swiss scored in the first minute and survived a barrage of Portugal attacks in an organised and resolute defensive display that helped them win 1-0.

Those contests are a reminder that while Portugal head into this last 16 World Cup game as favourites, Switzerland have the ability to threaten and upset them.

Portugal topped their group, scoring six goals across three matches. Switzerland finished second in their group after winning their final game 3-2 against Serbia in dramatic fashion. It was a match where all rules went out the window as Switzerland lost their typically reliable defensive shape, searching for a winner.

Serbia vs Switzerland
Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri celebrates scoring their first goal against Serbia. The game provided end-to.end action from start to finish [Alberto Lingria/Reuters]

But as exciting as that game was, Switzerland will know that against a free-scoring Portugal, they must return to the familiar organised display that frustrated Brazil and Cameroon in the first two group-stage matches.

Ronaldo is 37 years old but is still a major goal-scoring threat, as is Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes, who scored twice against Uruguay. Joao Felix has also produced some fine performances showing why Atletico Madrid forked out $132m for the winger in 2019.

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
Ronaldo celebrates scoring Portugal’s first goal against Ghana [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Switzerland do not boast such big-name forwards. Still, former Liverpool winger Xherdan Shaqiri has looked lively this tournament, and forward Breel Embolo, who has scored twice, will look to pressure the veteran defender Pepe with his pace and strength.

Pepe has been forced to deputise for Paris Saint-Germain’s Danilo Pereira after the centre-back broke several ribs during a training session.

Danilo Pereira
Danilo Pereira played against Ghana in Portugal’s opener but then was injured in training [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

The two sides have met on five occasions in all, with Portugal winning three and Switzerland two.

Switzerland have a penchant for causing an upset at major tournaments, knocking out France at the 2020 Euros in a thrilling comeback that left a shell-shocked French team fighting among themselves.

The winner of this match will face the victor of the Morocco-Spain game earlier on Tuesday.

Source: Al Jazeera