World Cup Portugal v Switzerland tips: Ronaldo can make his mark to send Swiss packing

The last two World Cup quarter-finalists will be decided on Tuesday, and Tipstrr football expert Sergiu Balbuta has assessed the prospects of Portugal and Switzerland before the all-European clash.

On paper this appears to be the most evenly matched of the eight last-16 games, with only six places in the latest FIFA rankings separating Portugal (9th) from Switzerland (15th).

Cristiano Ronaldo and Co are clear favourites, but with Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka in midfield, Switzerland are more than capable of causing an upset. It's also worth remembering that they topped their European qualifying group ahead of Italy, who subsequently failed to make it through the playoffs.

Portugal topped Group H without too many problems, a feat they have only achieved twice before in their World Cup history, and both times they went on to reach the semi-finals.

Indeed, after beating Ghana (3-2) and Uruguay (2-0), they even had the luxury of resting key players like Bruno Fernandes, Rúben Dias and Bernardo Silva as it ultimately did not matter that they lost their final group game 2-1 to South Korea.

Much media attention remains on Ronaldo, and the fact that he has managed just one contentious penalty so far has led people to question his presence in the starting line-up.

However, it remains very likely that Fernando Santos will keep faith with him in attack alongside Joao Felix and Fernandes, and it would be brave of anyone to write the 37-year-old superstar off, or indeed to bet against him finding the net.

Switzerland finished second in Group G, and despite having lost 1- to Brazil, Murat Yakin's team were only one goal away from winning the group and sending the Selecao into this tie against Portugal. 

The Swiss shared one the best games at this World Cup so far when they overturned a 2-1 deficit to clinch qualification with an entertaining 3-2 win against Serbia in their final decisive game.

We should be in for an interesting game of contrasting styles, with the Swiss likely to allow Portugal to enjoy their normal possession-based game, in favour of sitting back, staying compact and organised, then winning the ball in transition and hitting their opponents on the counterattack.

The two teams have seen quite a lot of each other in recent years, with Ronaldo's hat-trick earning Portugal a 3-1 win in the 2019 Nations League semi-final. More recently, the same competition this year saw them share the honours in June, with Portugal winning 4-0 in Lisbon, before Switzerland turned the tables with a 1-0 home win just a week later.

There is no denying that man-for-man Portugal are the superior team, who are likely to dominate both possession and territory before, sooner or later, the scoring chances will appear as they eventually did for Brazil in their game with the Swiss. 

It won't be easy, so if we're looking for betting value, then Portugal to win and under 2.5 goals (ie. 1-0 or 2-0) seems like a decent option, and a fair reflection of how the game might pan out.

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