Portugal and Switzerland will both endeavour to claim their first wins of the 2022-23 UEFA Nations League at the second attempt during Sunday’s League A Group 2 clash at the Estadio Jose Alvalade in Lisbon. Fernando Santos’s side left it late to rescue a 1-1 draw against Spain on matchday one, while the visitors fell to a 2-1 defeat to the Czech Republic. Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench during a Portugal game is truly a collector’s item, and manager Santos defended his decision not to start the five-time Ballon d’Or winner as the Selecao claimed a point in an opening stalemate with Iberian neighbours Spain.
Alvaro Morata finished to hand La Roja an early advantage in the 25th minute, and while Ronaldo would make an expected appearance off the bench, it was another substitute in Ricardo Horta who would restore parity for Portugal in the 82nd minute. Horta’s first-ever goal for Portugal sees them occupy second place in the embryonic standings after one game, and a battle with the Czech Republic also awaits the inaugural Nations League champions either side of their double-header with the Swiss. Preparations for Qatar 2022 are in full swing after Portugal ended the North Macedonian dream in the playoff final last month, and the Selecao have lost just once in 10 games since their disappointing elimination from Euro 2020.
Failing to make it out of their Nations League group last year was something of a reality check for the world’s eighth-ranked nation, who have not failed to find the back of the net in a home fixture since November 2020 and are raring to go again. There are own goals, and then there are extremely unfortunate own goals, which Switzerland midfielder Djibril Sow was the victim of during his side’s opening-day defeat to the promoted Czech Republic. Red Bull Salzburg starlet Noah Okafor was on target for the Swiss after Jan Kuchta had taken all of 11 minutes to draw first blood for the Czech Republic, who then saw Jakub Jankto’s cross take a wicked deflection off Sow from outside the penalty area and end up in the back of the net.
Had Murat Yakin’s side been able to produce a more ruthless showing in Prague, they may not be starting matchday two at the bottom of the rankings with zero points to their name, but the Switzerland coach admitted that lessons must be learned from the defeat as they continue their journey to Qatar. It is now three games without a win in all tournaments for the Rossocrociati, who have at least now found the back of the net in each of their last seven games, but their only win away from home in the Nations League since its inception came against minnows Iceland in October 2018. Centre-backs Nico Elvedi and Fabian Schar will both miss the upcoming encounter with Spain if they pick up bookings here, but Yakin is unlikely to break up that pairing in Lisbon.
Portugal defeated Switzerland 3-1 en route to the trophy in the 2018-19 semi-finals courtesy of a Ronaldo hat-trick, which marked a fourth defeat on the bounce for the visitors on Selecao soil, and not since 1969 have the Rossocrociati won away from home against Portugal in any competition. Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Jose Sa was forced to withdraw injured from the squad before the draw with Spain, but Portugal did not sustain any fresh issues on Thursday night. Santos claimed that Andre Silva “could do some things that Ronaldo couldn’t” when justifying the 37-year-old’s bench role, but the Manchester United man will expect to return to the first XI here.
Joao Moutinho only lasted 45 minutes before being taken off for Ruben Neves, who could now take the place of his Wolves teammate, but Diogo Jota was absent from the matchday squad after his Champions League final exploits alongside Domingos Duarte and the COVID-positive Vitinha. Switzerland also did not pick up any new injury worries on Thursday night, but Yakin will likely make some alterations to the forward line after a distinct lack of a clinical nature. Mario Gavranovic and Haris Seferovic are both battling to displace Breel Embolo in the final third, and it would be a surprise not to see Xherdan Shaqiri come back into the first XI – potentially in place of Sow.
Portugal possible starting lineup:
Costa; Cancelo, Pepe, Pereira, Guerreiro; Silva, Neves, Fernandes; Jota, Ronaldo, Leao
Switzerland possible starting lineup:
Sommer; Widmer, Schar, Elvedi, Rodriguez; Shaqiri, Freuler, Xhaka, Zuber; Okafor, Seferovic