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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Ronaldo can star as Portugal take aim at World Cup spot

Must-win clash for European champions against Swiss

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo
1 of 1

Portugal v Switzerland
Sky Sports Football, 7.45pm Tuesday

European champions Portugal are leaving it late in their bid to qualify automatically for the World Cup but they can finally overtake Switzerland when the teams meet in Lisbon.

The Swiss have been perfect so far but a win will take Cristiano Ronaldo and co straight to Russia and the Real Madrid superstar is fancied to lead his teammates to the most vital of victories.

It's not all over for the losers with a playoff spot guaranteed but next month's knockout ties already look tricky and Switzerland may be forced to sneak through the back door.

Switzerland won the reverse game 2-0 in September 2016, but Portugal were still buzzing from being crowned European champions. Ronaldo was injured, Andre Silva had not forced his way into the team and it was the perfect time for Switzerland to host the Iberians.

Things have changed with Ronaldo back to full fitness and Silva now part of the starting 11 to give Portugal a two-pronged attacking threat.

Ronaldo leads the way with 15 goals in Group B with Silva next in the charts with eight, while no Swiss player has managed more than four goals.

Portugal are sometimes negative under the dull Fernando Santos which can be to the detriment of a squad that also contains players such as Bernardo Silva and Ricardo Quaresma, but they need to win this contest so expect a more positive approach which may actually suit all of their flair performers.

Switzerland lost away to England and Slovenia without scoring in their Euro 2016 qualification campaign and then notched only three times in four matches at the finals in France.

The Lisbon clash is easily the most interesting of all the European ties on the final night of group-stage Uefa qualification campaign, although ITV4 have decided to broadcast Sweden's trip to Holland.

It possibly seemed a good idea at the time it was booked, but there is now an almost dead-rubber feel to the clash as the Dutch need a miracle seven-goal victory to leapfrog the second-placed Swedes.

France can guarantee top spot in Group A by at least matching Sweden's result when they host Belarus.

1pt 4-6 Hills

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Switzerland won the reverse game 2-0 in September 2016, but Portugal were still buzzing from being crowned European champions
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