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@BurrOaks77's World Cup Picks: Portugal vs Switzerland - 12/6
Portugal Vs Switzerland (2pm)
Portugal started the tournament off hot. Bringing us a 3-2 thriller vs Ghana where all five goals were scored in the second half. They followed it up with a 2-0 win over Uruguay that included a controversial PK, a debate over whether or not Ronaldo’s hair touched the ball on a header, and one of the best Bruno Fernandes performances I’ve seen. Portugal lost their third game vs South Korea, but elected to rest a lot of starters.
Switzerland started this tournament with a solid 1-0 win vs Cameroon. Embolo got on the score sheet quickly after halftime and the Swiss did an excellent job managing the rest of the match. They then looked very organized and solid defensively in a 0-1 loss to Brazil. The 3-2 win over Serbia was the most impressive performance I’ve seen out of this club since a 1-1 draw with Italy in qualifying.
Call me crazy, but I see goals in this game. These teams have faced off twice already this year in UEFA Nations league. With each team winning one match a piece. Portugal won the first match up 4-0 and the Swiss won match two 1-0. I know a lot of soccer enthusiasts don’t believe these matches matter, but I find the data useful.
Portugal has an experienced back line that is getting a little older, but is still perfectly capable of getting the job done. I expect Joao Cancelo and Rubin Dias to anchor the back line with Pepe, Guerreiro, and Dalot in rotation. Bernardo Silva will hold down the midfield and help facilitate the game. The big story will be Ronaldo’s alleged new contract with Saudi Arabia’s league. Will he be able to notch another goal in international competition? Or is he no longer the player we remember? Joao Felix is also apparently looking for a new home. He had a phenomenal goal in Portugal’s first match vs Ghana. Will he be able to make enough contributions for someone to pay his 100+ million dollar release clause from Atleti? As I mentioned earlier, Bruno Fernandes has had two nice performances. He is scoring as well as providing excellent service in the box.
Personally, I like Ronnie to score and Fernandes to assist in this one. Switzerland has managed rotating youth with experience in this tournament. Earning themselves a spot in knockouts. Granit Xhaka has had an impressive season with Arsenal, and his leadership has been invaluable for Switzerland as well. Xhaka has 5 shots and 3 SOT through qualifying. He is a forward pressing midfielder that isn’t afraid to shoot. His finish leaves a bit to be desired, but Xhaka is always keeping the defense and keeper aware when he has the ball. I mentioned in my last Swiss article that Xherdan Shaquiri is likely in his final World Cup. Shaquiri won three league titles with Bayern Munich and one with Liverpool. He is on the back end of his prime, but provided us with a goalazo vs Serbia in a must win game. I want nothing more than to see some elimination game Shaquiri magic. Embolo has been the best finisher for Switzerland. He has put up four shots this tournament, landing three on target, and having two of them finding the back of the net.
I like both teams to score here in regulation, however, I don’t know if a winner will be decided in 90 minutes. I could see this one heading to extras or penalty kicks. If this match goes over the 90’ mark, I think Portugal has the advantage with their depth. Guys like Leao, Goncalo Ramos, and Andre Silva are major problems with fresh legs. Switzerland will have to continue finishing goals at the hyper efficient rate if they want to stay in this match.
(0.5U) SHAQIRI 1+ SOT @ +135
(0.5U) XHAKA 1+ SOT @ +320
RONALDO AGS @ +250 (boosted from +150)
(0.75U) BRUNO FERNANDES ASSIST @ +350
BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ -108
(Sprinkle) BTTS + Embolo SOT + Ronaldo AGS + Xhaka 1 shot = (+1059)
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