Portugal surrender top spot in the Nations League after a 1-0 defeat in Switzerland

Written on 06/12/2022

Portugal surrendered top spot in the UEFA Nations League after a 1-0 defeat in Switzerland. Haris Seferović opened the scoring in the first minute at Stade de Genève, the Seleção unable to find an equaliser despite creating the bulk of the opportunities.

Fernando Santos made seven changes to the side that beat Czech Republic and it showed, especially in the first half where fluency was often lacking.

The introduction of Gonçalo Guedes, Bernardo Silva and Diogo Jota in the second half improved their play, but Portugal were unable to create enough quality opportunities to beat Jonas Omlin.

Fast start

Switzerland got off to a sensational start in Geneva, taking the lead inside the opening minute. It was a simple goal, Silvan Widmer’s cross met by Haris Seferović who headed past Rui Patrício.

Rafael Leão was getting plenty of ball down the left wing, consistently beating Silvan Widmer, but his final ball was continually lacking.

Portugal survived a scare in the 14th minute when Switzerland were awarded a penalty. Nico Elvedi came through the back of André Silva, ran clear and found Xherdan Shaqiri, his cross handled by Nuno Mendes an inch inside the 18-yard box.

Referee Fran Jovic consulted the touchline monitor and reversed his decision, Elvedi clearly fouling Silva.

The Seleção went close in the 17th minute, Bruno Fernandes' deep corner sent back into the danger by Rúben Neves where Danilo’s header was saved by Jonas Omlin.

Rafael Leão then headed the ball into the net but André Silva was ruled offside. Silva then saw his shot blocked but Portugal were struggling to string passes together inside Switzerland’s half.

Second half changes

Fernando Santos made a change at the break with Otávio replaced by Gonçalo Guedes. André Silva’s weak shot was saved after some nice work from Nuno Mendes, Vitinha getting involved and Portugal’s press improving.

Portugal were unsuccessfully trying to release Guedes down the right wing with Leão unable to get in the game.

Switzerland were content to wait for counter attacking opportunities, Seferović racing clear and dragging his effort wide.

Santos finally brought his main weapons off the bench in the 62nd minute when Bernardo Silva and Diogo Jota replaced Vitinha and Leão.

Bernardo was immediately involved, unleashing a fierce strike that was punched away by Omlin. Bruno Fernandes fired a free kick straight at Omlin as Portugal increased their intensity.

Omlin got away with a scare when he kicked the ball straight into Berardo inside his own 18-yard box, but the keeper but was able to recover just in time.

Chance after chance

Rúben Neves’ low drive was deflected for a corner as Portugal dominated possession. Guedes met Nuno Mendes’ cross and shot straight at Omlin before Bruno Fernandes made way for Matheus Nunes in the 74th minute.

Jota did well to make space for a shot that forced a save from Omlin as the chances kept coming. Guedes blazed over the bar, Jota’s header was saved and Cancelo’s drive narrowly missed the top corner.

Omlin was finally booked for time wasting in the 80th minute before Ricardo Horta replaced Rúben Neves. Steven Zuber’s shot was saved but the action soon returned to the opposite end of the pitch.

Pepe’s shot was saved, Bernardo’s weak effort went straight to Omlin, Pepe shot into the side netting and Jota’s shot from a tight angle missed the target.

Analysis

Fernando Santos made wholesale changes to the side that beat Czech Republic 2-0 in Lisbon. Vitinha made his first start for the Seleção with Rui Patrício, Nuno Mendes, Bruno Fernandes, Otávio, Rafael Leão and André Silva all returning to the starting side.

It was always going to be difficult to maintain the continuity and so it proved in the first half.

Rafael Leão enjoyed a lot of open space down the left wing but was unable to turn it into chances. Vitinha and Otávio struggled to make any impact.

Portugal did their best to break Switzerland down in the closing stages but were unable to find an equaliser. This match, alongside the win against Czech Republic, was another one to forget about and move on from as quickly as possible.

Line Ups 

Portugal (4-3-3): Rui Patrício - João Cancelo, Pepe, Danilo Pereira, Nuno Mendes – Vitinha (Bernardo Silva 62’), Rúben Neves (Ricardo Horta 82’), Bruno Fernandes (Matheus Nunes 74’) – Otávio (Gonçalo Guedes 46’), André Silva, Rafael Leão (Diogo Jota 62’)

Unused substitutes: Diogo Costa, Rui Silva, Domingos Duarte, David Carmo, Diogo Dalot, João Palhinha, William Carvalho

Head Coach: Fernando Santos

Czech Republic (4-3-3): Jonas Omlin - Silvan Widmer (Renato Steffen 46’), Manuel Akanji, Nico Elvedi, Ricardo Rodríguez (Leonidas Stergiou 79’) - Remo Freuler, Granit Xhaka, Djibril Sow (Michel Aebischer 79’) - Xherdan Shaqiri (Noah Okafor 22’), Haris Seferović, Breel Embolo (Steven Zuber 66’)

Unused substitutes: Yann Sommer, Yvon Mvogo, Fabian Frei, Eray Cömert, Fabian Schär, Mario Gavranović, Zeki Amdouni

Head Coach: Murat Yakin

Goals

[1-0] – Haris Seferović 1'