Portugal thrashes Switzerland in World Cup 2022
In a demonstration of pure offensive power backed by strong defensive prowess, Portugal defeated Switzerland in their Round of 16 clash 6-1 in Qatar’s 2022 World Cup. Fernando Santos decided to start Otavio in midfield and Goncalo Ramos in the center of attack instead of Cristiano Ronaldo, and it worked like a charm. Without CR7 on the pitch, the Portuguese played with the freedom their young guns needed, and Ramos with a hat-trick, Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro, and Rafael Leao all scored.
Switzerland played their game, but Ramos’ early strike and Pepe’s second before half-time were demoralizing, when within ten minutes of the restart Portugal had doubled their lead, the Swiss knew they were doomed and simply tried to get a consolation goal while keeping the scoreline decent–they failed at both today.
It only took Fernando Santos a couple of Euros, a prior World Cup, and three Nations League tourneys to figure it out, but Portugal really does have one of the most devastating offensive squads on the planet to go along with some of the most gifted defensive players too. Finally, today, Santos benched Ronaldo and saw all of his players buoyed by the choice. All of the strikers tracked back, all of the midfielders played both offense and defense, and even the defenders got in on the offensive act. No one felt they needed to play to feed their one superstar and were instead able to focus on producing the most stunning result in the cup so far.
Joao Felix is the heir apparent of the CR7 mantle and in this cup, he has grown into the role. Bruno Fernandes has always been a star and his brilliance has shown through in each match. Bernardo Silva’s contributions have been less stellar but productive nonetheless. Diogo Costa, Pepe, Ruben Dias, Guerreiro, and Diogo Dalot, and midfielder William Carvalho are as solid a defensive unit as is playing in Qatar. Ramos and Leao have shown they should be the ones accompanying Felix on the attacking line, and on the bench are fantastic understudies for just about each one of those starters. Santos should not have to overthink the next match’s lineup let alone the ones after that.
It is a shame to have to speak about CR7 in a match he only featured in for 20 minutes and had no impact on the outcome whatsoever, and even sadder to have to say that he is ending his career on a sour note. Not only was his pre-World Cup interview back in London outlandish, where he lambasted his coach and club, Manchester United, and got fired for his trouble, but both his petulant behavior when substituted in Portugal’s last match and his demeanor after this match were unforgivable.
As the match ended, Ronaldo did not join his teammates in celebrating their victory on the pitch over by their nation’s fans, choosing instead to head for the Portuguese sidelines and bench. Even his short, post-game embrace of Ramos, where he said but one word to him “Parabens (congratulations)” seemed perfunctory rather than heartfelt.
One can forgive a man with his background growing up for many things but at this stage in his life and career Ronaldo needs to show more class. Yes, he is a big reason why Portugal have had success these many years he has been on the team, and yes he had a memorable 2018 moment in Russia, and yes he is a big reason why his team are at the cup, but he would rehabilitate his recently self-tarnished image immeasurably if he could accept a minor role on the national team going forward with grace. Maybe then the gods would then give him a chance to score a goal or two to put a positive spin on his final big-stage appearance. If only he could accept that he doesn’t need to do anything more to forever be one of the greatest to play the sport!
Photo: Portugal’s Goncalo Ramos, Shutterstock ID 2210884365, by Maciej Rogowski Photo.