Portugal will be aiming to pick up their first win of the UEFA Nations League campaign when they host Switzerland in a Group A2 encounter this weekend.
The international fixtures continue to keep coming at a rapid pace, with Matchday 2 of the UEFA Nations League set to be played out over the weekend. On Sunday night, the winners of the inaugural Nations League tournament, Portugal, will be in action as they play hosts to Switzerland at the Estadio Jose Alvalade in Lisbon, in their second Group A2 clash.
Portugal began their 2022/23 Nations League campaign with a 1-1 draw against Spain earlier this week, as A Selecao came back from a goal down to salvage a point. The performance, along with Fernando Santos’ selection for the game, raised a lot of eyebrows. And the manager and the team will be hoping to get things right on Sunday as they continue their preparations for the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
Meanwhile, Switzerland kicked off their Nations League journey on a disappointing note, as they were beaten 2-1 by the Czech Republic away from home. The defeat leaves Murat Yakin’s side rooted at the bottom of the standings in Group A2, with second-placed Portugal and third-placed Spain just a point clear of them.
As for recent form, Portugal are on a three-game unbeaten run and have lost just one of their last ten games. Switzerland, on the other hand, have failed to win any of their previous three games and will be eager to end that run. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams ahead of this crucial Nations League encounter in Lisbon on Sunday.
Team News & Tactics
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Portugal are without star defender Ruben Dias, who is out with an injury while goalkeeper Jose Sa had to withdraw from the squad after suffering an injury. Domingos Duarte is a minor doubt for the clash due to a fitness issue and might not be risked. Joao Felix is a notable absentee from the roster selected by Fernando Santos.
The Portugal manager could be set to make some tweaks to the side that started against Spain, although no change is likely in goal, where Diogo Costa could continue ahead of the experienced Rui Patricio.
Joao Cancelo is a certain starter at right-back for the home team, but Nuno Mendes could get a look-in at left-back ahead of Raphael Guerreiro, making for an extremely attack-minded full-back pairing. Veteran defender Pepe continues to be an integral player for Portugal even at 39 and should start at the heart of the backline alongside Danilo Pereira, who will slot in as a makeshift centre-back again.
Ruben Neves should come into the starting XI at the base of the midfield, replacing his Wolves teammate Joao Moutinho. The 25-year-old will be tasked with protecting the defence while the onus of providing the creativity and forward thrust will fall on Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who was a shock omission from the starting lineup against Spain, should return in the No. 9 role at the expense of Andre Silva. Diogo Jota is another player who should get an opportunity on Sunday night, with Otavio likely to make way for the Liverpool forward. Rafael Leao should hold on to his spot as the third attacker for Portugal.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Costa; Cancelo, Pepe, Pereira, Mendes; Silva, Neves, Fernandes; Jota, Ronaldo, Leao
Switzerland manager Murat Yakin does not have any injury concerns in his squad, while there have been no late withdrawals from the roster either. Most of the usual suspects like Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri, Haris Seferovic, Manuel Akanji and Ricardo Rodriguez, among others, are part of the squad called up. Denis Zakaria, who picked up an injury at Juventus in May, is a notable absentee.
Yakin has preferred a 4-4-2 formation so far in his tenure as the Switzerland boss and could stick with the same shape in Lisbon this weekend, with seasoned campaigner Yann Sommer guarding the goal.
From Prague to Lisbon
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Fabian Schar and Nico Elvedi were preferred at centre-back last time out, with Akanji being overlooked, and that might turn out to be the case again on Sunday. Silvan Widmer and Ricardo Rodriguez will line up as the full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively and will have the licence to push forward on every possible occasion.
Captain Granit Xhaka will be tasked with keeping things tight in the middle of the park with Remo Freuler supporting the Arsenal superstar. The pair will have their task cut out against the Portuguese midfield trifecta of Silva, Fernandes and Neves and will need support from the wide midfielders, who should be Xherdan Shaqiri and Ruben Vargas. The pair will also act as the main creative outlets for Switzerland.
Noah Okafor, who was on target in the defeat to Czechia, should hold on to his spot in the two-pronged strikeforce. Breel Embolo is likely to continue his partner as his blistering pace could cause problems for Pepe. Haris Seferovic and Mario Gavranovic will be options from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Sommer; Widmer, Schar, Elvedi, Rodriguez; Shaqiri, Freuler, Xhaka, Vargas; Okafor, Embolo
- This will be the 24th meeting between Portugal and Switzerland. The former have a poor head-to-head record, having picked up eight wins in the previous 23 meetings compared to the latter’s ten (D5).
- However, Portugal have won both of their last two fixtures against Switzerland with an aggregate scoreline of 5-1, keeping one clean sheet.
- Portugal have not lost any of their previous six home matches against Switzerland, winning five.
- After taking over as manager of the Switzerland national team in August last year, Murat Yakin led La Nati on a seven-game unbeaten run (W4 D3). However, he has failed to win any of their last three matches (D1 L2).
- Of the ten games that Murat Yakin has been in charge of, Switzerland have kept a clean sheet in five and have conceded seven goals in the remaining five fixtures.
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Cristiano Ronaldo has been named Manchester United's Player of the Year 🏆 pic.twitter.com/aKyorWGdDF
— GOAL (@goal) June 4, 2022
After not starting in the previous game against Spain, Ronaldo came on from the bench and had a hand in the equalising goal as Portugal managed to save a point. The 37-year-old, who is the nation’s most capped player (185) and all-time leading goalscorer (115), is likely to be given the nod on Lisbon on Sunday, and he will have a key role to play for A Selecao.
Ronaldo enjoyed a solid season on a personal level with Manchester United, finishing with 24 goals and winning the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year for his contributions. But having seen the team fail collectively, the veteran maverick will be hoping to taste some success with the national team, starting with a victory over Switzerland.
Portugal 2-0 Switzerland
Portugal did not make the best impression in their UEFA Nations League opener against Spain earlier in the week. But they are unbeaten in their last three matches and will likely have Cristiano Ronaldo and Diogo Jota back in the starting XI, which could make a huge difference.
Switzerland were nowhere near good enough in their loss to the Czech Republic and have failed to build on the early promise shown in Murat Yakin’s tenure. They have not won away at Portugal since 1969, and their recent track record on the road has not been all too inspiring either.
The Hard Tackle is predicting a victory for Portugal, who will be buoyed by the return of Ronaldo and the backing of their supporters at Estadio Jose Alvalade on Sunday.