Portugal will be aiming to strengthen their hold at the top of Group A2 of the UEFA Nations League when they take on Switzerland this weekend.

The international fixtures continue to arrive at a breakneck pace as Matchday 4 of the 2022/23 UEFA Nations League gets underway this Sunday. And Portugal will travel to Stade de Geneve to face off against Switzerland in a Group A2 encounter, hoping to stretch their lead at the top of the standings.

Portugal have made a fine start to their Nations League campaign. While a 1-1 draw with Spain on the opening day was not well-received, A Selecao have picked up two wins in two subsequently, beating Switzerland 4-0 and the Czech Republic 2-0. It has seen Fernando Santos’ side move up to the top of the Group A2 table with seven points, two clear of Spain in second place.

Meanwhile, Switzerland have endured a torrid start in the Nations League as they have lost each of their three fixtures and remain rooted at the bottom of the table. After losing to the Czech Republic 2-1 in their first fixture, La Nati faced defeats versus Portugal and Spain, with the latter coming at home.

Switzerland manager Murat Yakin will want to arrest the downslide at the earliest, with the team struggling after a fine start under his tutelage. However, with Portugal exhibiting fine form in the last two games, things could get tricky for the hosts in Geneva on Sunday night. The Hard Tackle now takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Switzerland

Fabian Schar will be back in contention after missing the last game due to suspension. Nico Elvedi and Ruben Vargas were unavailable against Spain due to injuries and are doubts for the visit of Portugal as well. Mattia Bottani has withdrawn from the squad due to an adductor injury.

Having set his team up in a 4-3-3 formation in the last game against Spain, manager Murat Yakin could look to stick with the same shape when Portugal come into town. Yann Sommer is a certain starter in goal for Switzerland. He should be shielded by the centre-back pairing of Manuel Akanji and the returning Schar, with Eray Comert likely to miss out.

Silvan Widmer and Ricardo Rodriguez ought to line up as the full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively, from where they will have the licence to push forward and support the attack.

Remo Freuler should hold the fort in the middle of the park for the home team, with Granit Xhaka providing him support on the defensive side of things while also looking to facilitate Switzerland’s attacking play. Moussa Sow should return to the lineup as the third midfielder for Switzerland.

The talismanic Xherdan Shaqiri should get the nod on the right flank, while Noah Okafor, who has scored Switzerland’s only goal of the Nations League campaign so far, should come into the line on the left. Breel Embolo is likely to continue in the No. 9 role for the hosts, with Haris Seferovic an option from the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Sommer; Widmer, Schar, Akanji, Rodriguez; Sow, Freuler, Xhaka; Shaqiri, Embolo, Okafor

Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo has not travelled with the rest of the squad to Switzerland for the game as Fernando Santos has opted to rest his talisman. Joao Moutinho and Raphael Guerreiro are also not included in the travelling party and will not be involved.

Santos might make a few changes to the side that got past the Czech Republic last time out, starting from goal where Rui Patricio is likely to return in place of Diogo Costa between the sticks. Joao Cancelo, who was on target in the last game, should continue at right-back while Nuno Mendes becomes an automatic pick on the left side in Guerreiro’s absence.

Veteran centre-half Pepe could be given a breather by the Portugal manager, paving the way for the towering David Carmo to make his international debut for A Selecao. He should have Danilo Pereira as his partner at the heart of the defence against the Swiss.

Ruben Neves, who continues to be linked with a summer move to Barcelona, ought to occupy the deepest position in the centre of the park for Portugal. Bernardo Silva, who had a fine game against Czechia, should feature from the get-go again, with Bruno Fernandes likely to partner him with the pair acting as the chief creative outlets for the visiting side.

With Ronaldo unavailable, Andre Silva should spearhead the attack for Portugal in Geneva. The former AC Milan striker should have support from Diogo Jota and Rafael Leao from the flanks, with Goncalo Guedes likely to drop out to the bench, despite scoring against the Czech Republic.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Patricio; Cancelo, Pereira, Carmo, Mendes; Silva, Neves, Fernandes; Jota, Andre Silva, Leao

Key Stats

  • Portugal are on a five-game unbeaten run, winning four fixtures during this run (D1).
  • Switzerland have failed to win a single match from their five games in 2022, losing four of those (D1).
  • Portugal have managed to keep a clean sheet in three of their last five matches.
  • Portugal have won each of their last three matches against Switzerland with an aggregate scoreline of 9-1. However, all these wins have come at home.
  • Switzerland have not lost in their last three home meetings with Portugal, winning two of those encounters (D1).

Player to Watch

Rafael Leao

The 23-year-old is coming on the back of an excellent campaign with AC Milan as he played a pivotal role in AC Milan’s run to the Serie A title. Leao ended the 2021/22 campaign with 26 direct goal contributions (14 goals, 12 assists) from 42 games in all competitions. He will be hoping to carry forward that form on the international stage with Portugal.

Leao did not have the best of the games against Spain, while he has not had many minutes in the subsequent matches. With the forward yet to score his first goal for A Selecao, the AC Milan attacker will be hoping to break his international duck when he takes the field against Switzerland on Sunday night.

Prediction

Switzerland 0-2 Portugal

Portugal are in fine form heading into the game, having won four of their last five matches. Meanwhile, Switzerland have hit a rough patch after a bright start to life under new manager Murat Yakin. Even though Cristiano Ronaldo is unavailable, A Selecao have quality in abundance to see out the challenge posed by their hosts, who have been goal-shy so far in the Nations League campaign. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 win for Fernando Santos’ side.

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