It's do-or-die time for Euro 2016 champions Portugal with a win taking them straight to Russia and anything but that giving them a place in the play-offs. Ronaldo and co should just about pull it off, says Jamie Pacheco...
"They're a side who enjoys the challenge of one-off matches. At Euro 2016 they won four knockout matches: one on penalties, two in extra-time and one in regular time so know how to adapt to different circumstances both before and during matches."
Portugal v Switzerland
Tuesday October 10 19:45
Live on Sky Sports Football
The story so far
Portugal suffered a bit of a Euro 2016 hangover when they lost their first qualifier 2-0 away at Switzerland. Cristiano Ronaldo was still recovering from the knee injury that kept him out of most of the Euro 2016 finals and they were a bit lethargic throughout.
Since then, they've won every single one of their next eight matches. The problem is - so have Switzerland. Leaving Portugal on 24 points and the Swiss on 27. Crucially though, after such results as back-to-back 6-0 wins over Andorra and Faroe Islands, further wins by 5-1, 4-1 and impressive 3-0 and 1-0 wins home and away over the dangerous Hungary, they now boast a better goal difference than Switzerland. Theirs is +26 to while the Swiss' stands at 18. Which means that the equation is simple: win and they're off to the World Cup. Don't win and they enter the lottery of the play-offs.
Everyone available for Portugal
There's only one place to start. Cristiano Ronaldo has been doing what Cristiano Ronaldo does, scoring 15 goals so far in the campaign. Yes, a few of them were 'cheap' goals against minnow nations but it's a remarkable tally irrespective of that.
Bizarrely, one of his most important ones was from the bench on Saturday night in Andorra. Having been left out of the starting XI because he was one booking away from missing the Switzerland game, he came on at half-time with the score 0-0 and took just 18 minutes to score and settle the nerves, before Andre Silva scored a late second.
Fernando Santos has everyone available. That should mean starting places for Southampton's Cedric Soares at right-back and long-term West Ham target William Carvalho in the middle of the park. Manchester City's Bernardo Silva will fight it out with the likes of Ricardo Quaresma and Gelson Martins for a spot on the wing while Adrien Silva, he of the farcical botched transfer deal, is unavailable as he hasn't been allowed to train with Leicester.
Switzerland in the mood
This is a good Swiss side, arguably the best since the mid-90s when the likes of Stephane Chapuisat and Alan Sutter were shining for their country.
The current crop features Juventus right-back Stephane Lichsteiner, former Arsenal man Johan Djourou, current Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka, Stoke's mercurial forward Xherdan Shaquiri and Benfica's Haris Seferovic, who will of course be playing in front of his fans at the Estadio da Luz.
They showed signs of promise at Euro 2016 and this team looks that little bit better with another year's experience of playing together under their belts.
Portugal are [1.66] and that's understandable. Since that opening day slip-up they've been highly impressive, as ever led by the inimitable Ronaldo in every way. If anything, they have more options in their squad now than they did in France last summer. Despite a symmetrical head-to-head record against Switzerland (3 wins, 3 draws, 3 defeats), you'd think that home advantage is the all-important factor here and a full house at the Estadio da Luz should bring the best out of their players.
But there's another reason why Portugal should get the job done. They're a side who enjoys the challenge of one-off matches. At Euro 2016 they won four knockout matches: one on penalties, two in extra-time and one in regular time so know how to adapt to different circumstances both before and during matches.
But we can find better bets than this one.
'Unders' is favourite at [1.84] and that's certainly not in line with the average number of goals in the matches these two have been involved in. Portugal games average 3.77 goals this campaign and for the Swiss it's 3.11. But many of those goals were scored against extremely uncompetitive sides in what was, quite frankly, a pretty weak group.
This should be a tense one and that price on unders isn't actually a bad one at all.
Ronaldo is odds-on at 8/11 to score anytime and as arguably the best finisher in the world, the focal point of attack and the man in charge of set-pieces, he should have the lion's share of all of Portugal's chances.
But if you believe Switzerland can get a goal, both Seferovic (11/4) and Shaquiri (7/2) look decent prices though we'll have to wait and see how the former deals with the unusual situation of playing for his country as an away player at the stadium where he plays his club football.
We've said Portugal justify favouritism and relish these high pressure matches and in what might be a game of cat-and-mouse, are likely to be aggressive and ambitious from the start, try to grab a goal and defend what they have. But, if that is the case, Switzerland will have to hit back and give it a go because losing 1-0 or 2-0 has the same consequences: a play-off if they want to be in Russia. So may be vulnerable to a late Portugal counter-attack.
So attractive as 1-0 is at around [7.0], it might be best to cover 1-0 and 2-0 by backing Portugal to win + under 2.5 goals at 5/2 on the Betfair Sportsbook.