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|Match Result and Both Teams to Score||Odds|
|Portugal and Yes||+550
|Portugal and No||+500
|Switzerland and Yes||+230
|Switzerland and No||+185
Back Switzerland to beat Portugal and both teams not to score! Portugal’s attack looks blunt and the Swiss can take advantage in the first game in Group C.
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Thirty years ago, at the men’s version of the European Championship, something extraordinary happened. Having reached the quarter-finals of the previous World Cup, and only losing to the reigning champions and eventual runners-up Argentina on penalties, Yugoslavia would have been among the contenders to triumph. But the outbreak of war back home meant they were unable to compete that summer. They were replaced by Denmark, the side that had finished a point behind them in their qualification group. The Danes, who had not qualified for Euro 1992, went on to lift the trophy.
Portugal will be hoping for a repeat at the Women’s Euro 2022. Just like the Denmark men’s national team three decades ago, they were handed a place at this tournament. Portugal lost to Russia in the play-offs after both teams finished second in their respective qualifying groups. But UEFA expelled the latter after the country’s invasion of Ukraine, allowing Portugal to proceed to the tournament instead.
Denmark were initially tipped to do little more than make up the numbers at Euro 1992, so anything is possible as far as Portugal are concerned this summer. However, it would be a major surprise if this team advanced to the knockout stage. Progression would have been tough regardless, but being drawn in Group C alongside Sweden and the Netherlands – two of the outstanding women’s sides right now – has made their task even harder.
Portugal have improved in recent years, rising from 49th place in the FIFA World Rankings to 29th. The manager, Fransisco Neto, has been bullish in the run-up to the tournament, but deep down he will know the scale of the task facing his team. Third place in Group C is probably the best Portugal can hope for.
Switzerland also got here via the play-offs after finishing second to Belgium in their qualifying group. They did not do too much wrong, winning six of their eight matches and drawing one of the others, but a 4-0 defeat by the Belgians in Leuven ended their hopes of qualifying automatically. Still, Switzerland regrouped and booked their spot at their second consecutive European Women’s Championship by overcoming Czech Republic on penalties in a two-legged play-off.
Like their upcoming opponents, Switzerland have made progress over the last decade or so. The country has invested in the women’s game and will hope to become regular qualifiers for major tournaments. But there is still a way to go before the Swiss are ready to compete at the business end of competitions like the World Cup and the Euros.
In Nils Nielsen they do at least have an astute head coach at the helm. He took his native Denmark to the final of Euro 2017 five years ago and has taken a hands-on role in his current job. If Switzerland are to spring a surprise in Group C by finishing ahead of either Sweden or the Netherlands in the top two, it will be because of a well-organized, spirited side that does not know when it is beat.
One thing that stood out in Portugal’s qualifying campaign was their struggles in front of goal. With a return of just 10 strikes in their eight group games, they found the back of the net less often than the likes of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Scotland and Ukraine, none of whom made it to England this month. They then failed to score in both legs of the play-off with Russia before going down on penalties.
That does not bode well for this crucial meeting with Switzerland, let alone subsequent games against the Netherlands and Sweden. Nielsen’s side conceded only six times in their eight qualifiers and although they suffered heavy pre-tournament defeats by England and Germany, Portugal are not in the same class as those two teams.
This match is unlikely to be a classic. Both Switzerland and Portugal will be feeling their way into the tournament on matchday one. It is also true that defeat here would surely be fatal to either team’s chances of qualifying for the quarter-finals. That could encourage cagey, safety-first soccer, with the players on both teams looking to avoid mistakes. With all that in mind, we recommend backing a Switzerland win to nil at the Leigh Sports Village on Saturday.
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|Portugal vs Switzerland Information|
|Teams||Portugal vs Switzerland|
|Location||Leigh Sports Village, Leigh, England|
|Time||Saturday 9 July 2022, 12.00 PM EDT|
|How to watch||ESPN+|
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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