Our match prediction:
European champions Portugal will begin their World Cup qualifying campaign without injured Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, who is still struggling with a knee problem he sustained in Euro 2016 final against France. It has been a memorable summer for Fernando Santos’ men who wrote their names in the history books by winning the first-ever continental trophy for Portugal. Santos is keen to extend the positive run as he takes his men on a trip to Switzerland for their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying opener. Packed with individual quality, Portuguese team will be able to compensate for Ronaldo’s absence and there is no doubt that Switzerland will have plenty of problems against the reigning European champions. Switzerland will be looking to make amends for their somewhat undeserved elimination to Poland in the knock-out stage of the Euro 2016. Swiss outplayed Poland but were unfortunate to lose after a penalty shootout after a draw in normal and extra time. Vladimir Petkovic’s men can be a tough nut to crack, but we predict that Portugal will be able to put at least one home to wrap up the game in their favour.
Highligted Player (Yann Sommer):
After making 133 league appearances for Basel between 2007 and 2014, Yann Sommer joined Borussia Monchengladbach on March, 2014. The Swiss goalkeeper signed a five-year deal with the Bundesliga outfit and he was signed to replace Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who joined Barcelona. Sommer made 34 appearances for Borussia M’gladbach in the 2014/2015 season and it has to be noted that he managed to keep 15 clean sheets. As a result, die Fohlen finished the season in third place in the standings. The Swiss shoot-stopper, though, was not as successful in the 2015/2016 season, keeping just 5 clean sheets, while conceding 50 goals in the process. Sommer made his Switzerland debut on 30 May, 2012 in a 1-0 loss to Romania and he represented the Rossocrociati at both 2014 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2016. The shoot-stopper made 8 appearances for Switzerland on the road to Euro 2016 and he conceded eight goals in the process. Sommer played four games for the Rossocrociati at the tournament in France, conceding two goals, while keeping two clean sheets.
Highlighted Team (Portugal):
Portugal started competing at the biggest stage in the 1930’s, but they had to wait for almost seventy years to establish themselves as a top side. The third place finish at the 1966 World Cup was a one-off result as the Selecao needed another 40 years to get past the group stage, reaching the semi-finals at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Portugal enjoyed more success on the continent, finishing third at the 1984, 2000 and 2012 European Championships, while losing in the final to Greece at the Euro 2004 that was held on home soil. Despite being able to count on one of world’s best ever footballers Cristiano Ronaldo, the Selecao have yet to lift a major trophy and they will not have too many opportunities to do so before the Real Madrid superstar retires. Eusebio remains the most famous footballer to have played for Portugal, while Luis Figo, Simao Sabrosa, Pedro Pauleta, Rui Costa and Nani are also worth mention. The Selecao currently boast an impressive pool of world-class talent and it should not be long before they end the trophy drought.