Portugal Vs. Switzerland World Cup Round of 16 Odds, Picks, Predictions (12/6/22)

Portugal’s road to the quarterfinal has been slightly less smooth than it may seem; Ghana were a moment of brilliance away from managing a draw, and while the match didn’t matter much and a handful of starters got some rest, there were some concerning trends. On the other hand, Switzerland might be a tougher side than many casual fans might think; they had two very solid wins, and played tournament favorites Brazil extremely well before suffering a late, narrow defeat. These are two different teams with a lot of clashing qualities, which should make for an intriguing and more competitive match than many might expect. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks for this intra-European round of 16 matchup.

Portugal Vs. Switzerland Odds

For the 90-minute match line, Portugal are narrow favorites at -105, while Switzerland and the draw are set at +330 and +240, respectively. The goalscoring line is the customary 2.5, with the under being a solid favorite at -155.

Portugal Vs. Switzerland Prediction & Pick

Portugal find themselves in a fairly unique predicament in this World Cup. They have to find the proper role for a surefire top-5 player of all time, who at this point in his career is no longer a surefire top-5 player on the Portuguese side. That player of course is the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo, who is surely still a potential difference-maker for his country, but pretty far from his very best self. This wouldn’t be much of a predicament, but Portugal also employ one of the most exciting and brightest young stars in the worldwide game, AC Milan’ Rafael Leão, the defending Serie A MVP. Ronaldo has been in the lineup, and Leão has remained on the bench, despite coming in to score the winner in the tournament opener against Ghana. It’ll be interesting to see how these two, as well as second striker João Félix, will be used as the tournament progresses and the element of overtime is introduced.

The great thing about Switzerland is that their balance makes them such a versatile and tough to predict team. One day, the hero might be Monaco striker Breel Embolo, the next it could be veteran keeper Yann Sommer, and on another success could be driven by Prem midfield duo Granit Xhaka and Remo Freuler. It’s just a well-rounded team, even if wanting a bit for star power, with few holes and many ways to beat you. Just in this tournament, they played a couple of close low-scoring matches, before wrapping up the group with a wide-open five goal thriller against Serbia, which ended up being a huge win. And let’s not forget; the World will remember North Macedonia for locking Euro champs Italy out of this World Cup, but none of that would have happened if Switzerland hadn’t mustered two draws against the Azzurri to top that group; this is a serious team and they can be a problem for the very best of the best. They’ve shown it repeatedly over the past year, and they’ll look to do it again on Tuesday against Switzerland.

It’s never fun to go with the chalk in an interesting match like this one, but I do like a lot of what I’ve seen out of Portugal, the management has been questionable but the stars are showing up at the right time, and I think they have a better shot than many (myself included) may have first thought to get deep in this tournament, maybe even to the end. They’ll win this one in regulation, and conversely, nothing about their goalscoring or defending record even remotely implies that this will stay under 2.5 goals. I’m completely unsure why the under is favored, so I’m taking the over, in fact it’s one of my favorite bets of this round of 16.

Key Matchups

Portugal Attack vs. Switzerland Defense

This importance behind this position-group battle is simple enough; if Portugal’s star-studded attack is able to play to its potential and blow the game open with goals, Switzerland have no chance. If the Swiss are able to drive a wedge between the players and make them individuals rather than a group, then this could be a very compelling ballgame. It’s been essentially the same group throughout the tournament, with just one rotation made thus far. The fullbacks are Silvan Widmer and Ricardo Rodriguez, surrounding Man City breakout star Manuel Akanji and Monchengladbach’s Nico Elvedi in the middle. The one change made for the final group match, against Serbia, was that Elvedi gave way to Newcastle’s Fabian Schär, who put in a fine shift but did pick up a yellow card. Akanji has been a real rock for this group, one of the more vital defenders in this tournament so far, and Widmer has provided some real quality in both defense and attack on the right side. It’s not necessarily a star-studded group, but there’s plenty of top-league experience and these guys play together- it’s a really tough defense to overcome.

One interesting choice made by Portugal manager Fernando Santos has been to play Bruno Fernandes in an attacking position, while having Bernardo Silva sit back as more of a true midfielder. Make no mistake, both are versatile players who have filled both roles many a time, but I would have expected the opposite, with Silva more frequently playing on the wing during the club season and Fernandes usually playing as a traditional center midfielder or CAM. Nevertheless, it’s worked to great effect, as Fernandes has been one of the best players of the tournament so far. He’s been just about Portugal’s most valuable player, highlighted by his vital pair of assists in the opener against Ghana and his brace against Uruguay. Ronaldo has been less than his peak self, while Félix has had stretches of struggling to assert his influence over the game, but both have had undeniable moments of greatness, without which Portugal would certainly not be here. To me, the big thing to watch with this part of the game is Leão’s involvement; Santos has to find a way to get him on the pitch for more than a 20-30 minute stint, he’s simply too valuable for such a diminished role. It would be a shame for Portugal to go home with one of their best cards relatively unplayed in the poker game that is the World Cup.

The Midfield Battle

Switzerland has held just about half of possession in each of their matches so far, while Portugal has consistently hovered around the 60% mark. Those numbers aren’t incredibly disparate, especially when you adjust for competition, so it’s fair to say that control of the ball will be an interesting and impactful trend to watch out for as this game unfolds. This will be particularly key for Switzerland, who probably don’t have the ability Portugal have to seize momentum, go on a break and create a big play out of thin air.

The Swiss midfield is one of the more talented groups for this side, featuring three solid players from Europe’s biggest leagues. They’re led of course by captain Granit Xhaka, performing a similar and equally vital role to what he does at Arsenal during the club year, who is joined in central midfield by Remo Freuler, who was a major contributor in the rise of Atalanta in recent years, and is now one of the biggest reasons Nottingham Forest look like they just might extend their first Prem stint in several decades. They’re both sending the ball up to CAM Djibril Sow of Eintracht Frankfurt, who looks to be rounding into form with an assist against Serbia after two more mediocre performances to open up the tournament. If this group is able to overachieve and keep the ball for more of the match than they have been, I’m confident that they’ll be able to manufacture enough chances for Switzerland’s attack to make this a legitimate match.

As Portugal have run a different formation in each match, their midfield has been a bit of a moving target as it keeps changing shape. Since there was so much rotation in the post-clinch match against South Korea, I’ll focus on the first two, however. The big constant between those two is the duo of Prem players, Rúben Neves in the middle and Bernardo Silva to his right. Neves, who has yet to play a full 90, is a solid player. Silva, to me, has long been one of the best and most underrated players in the World, and he has infinite ways to impact the game from the midfield position. They were first joined by Porto stalwart Otávio, who exited against Ghana with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Real Betis veteran William Carvalho. Both are very good players, and when Otávio returns from injury (which should be soon) it’ll be interesting to see how the lineup is handled, as Carvalho has been excellent in relief. Of course, Fernandes also is prone to drop back and contribute as a de facto member of this midfield group; look for him to really spend some time here if Santos decides he wants to introduce Leão into the attacking group without sacrificing Ronaldo or Félix.

From starting my own blog in Middle School, to working on a friend’s in college, and finally joining the Lineups team this year, I’ve been writing about sports for over a decade and betting on them as long as I’ve been legally able. I graduated from the University of Michigan last year, where I took sports journalism classes alongside my business major. Having played and watched sports for almost my whole life, I aim to provide insight and entertainment, as well as profitable picks, in my writing about professional and collegiate leagues.

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