June 4, 2022 Sports Match
During Sunday’s League A Group 2 match at the Estadio Jose Alvalade in Lisbon, both Portugal and Switzerland will be looking for their first wins of the 2022-23 UEFA Nations League.
On matchday one, Fernando Santos’ side came from behind to salvage a 1-1 draw against Spain, while the visitors were defeated 2-1 by the Czech Republic.
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Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench during a Portugal match is a true collector’s piece, and manager Fernando Santos justified his choice not to start the five-time Ballon d’Or winner as the Selecao drew 0-0 with Iberian rivals Spain in their opening match.
In the 25th minute, Alvaro Morata scored to give La Roja an early lead, and while Ronaldo would come off the bench to equalize in the 82nd minute, it was another substitute, Ricardo Horta, who restored parity for Portugal.
Horta’s first goal for Portugal puts them in second place in the early standings after one game, and the inaugural Nations League champions will face the Czech Republic either side of their double-header with Switzerland.
After ending North Macedonia’s dream in the playoff final last month, Portugal’s preparations for Qatar 2022 are in full swing, with the Selecao losing only once in ten games since their dismal withdrawal from Euro 2020.
Last year’s failure to advance from their Nations League group was a wake-up call for the world’s eighth-ranked side, who haven’t failed to score in a home match since November 2020 and are ready to go again.
There are awful own goals, and then there are incredibly unfortunate own goals, like as the one that Switzerland player Djibril Sow suffered during his team’s opening-day loss to the promoted Czech Republic.
After Jan Kuchta scored after only 11 minutes for the Czech Republic, Noah Okafor of Red Bull Salzburg was on target for the Swiss, who then had Jakub Jankto’s cross take a vicious deflection off Sow from beyond the penalty area and end up in the back of the net.
Murat Yakin’s side may not be starting matchday two at the bottom of the rankings with zero points if they had put in a more ruthless performance in Prague, but the Switzerland coach stated that lessons must be taken from the defeat as they continue their road to Qatar.
The Rossocrociati have now gone three games without a win in all tournaments, though they have scored in each of their last seven games. They only win away from home in the Nations League since its inception came against minnows Iceland in October 2018.
Portugal defeated Switzerland 3-1 in the 2018-19 semi-finals, courtesy of a Ronaldo hat-trick, marking the visitors’ fourth consecutive defeat on Selecao turf, and the Rossocrociati have not won away from home against Portugal in any competition since 1969.
Switzerland’s away day difficulties have continued since the Nations League’s inception, and Portugal can exacerbate the visitors’ relegation anxieties in front of their home fans.
The return of Ronaldo and Neves to the first XI could help the Selecao get off to a better start than they did against Spain, but we don’t expect Yakin’s side to surprise us on Sunday.
Meetings between these two nations, which have become increasingly common in recent years, are usually close affairs, with Greece controlling play but their Kosovar opponents clinging to a point.
The hosts may repeat the feat and remain tied atop the early group rankings, with two more games coming up next week, including the return encounter in Volos.