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Portugal to avoid semi-final upset? Get UEFA Nations League tips

Leigh Copson 4 Jun 2019
Can Ronaldo lead Portuguese to the final? (credit:SOPA Images/SIPA USA/PA Images)

Portugal v Switzerland predictions for the UEFA Nations League semi-final on Wednesday, June 5. Can European champions Portugal book their place in the first ever UEFA Nations League Final, or will Switzerland repeat that shock World Cup qualifying win over the Portuguese? Read on for all of our free betting tips and predictions.

READ MORE: Get our free Netherlands v England betting tips.

Portugal v Switzerland

While Portugal’s presence in the final four of the UEFA Nations League is no real surprise, the fact Switzerland are one of the last teams standing after the group phase is. They went into the group campaign with the main aim of trying to avoid relegation from the top tier of the competition, but instead they snatched a place in the semi-finals from under the noses of Belgium when they came storming back from two goals down to wallop Roberto Martinez’s side 5-2 on the final night. It was incredible stuff, but can they now beat the European champions to book an unlikely final berth?

Portugal, of course, are the current European champions having upset host nation France with an extra-time goal in the Euro 2016 final, but it would not be unfair to say that since that famous night they have largely underwhelmed on the international stage.

While they were not expected to go all the way at the 2018 World Cup, expectations were much higher than a poor group campaign that featured a 1-1 draw with Iran and a last-16 exit at the hands of Uruguay. But that is what they produced and that has been the tale of the Portuguese when it comes to major international tournaments. They have underwhelmed so many times that it does not raise eyebrows when they show up on the big stage and deliver very little. In fact, that track record is what made their Euro 2016 success all the more surprising.

And it is not like their current form is great either. They made fairly comfortable progress through the group stage of the UEFA Nations League thanks to a couple of wins and a couple of draws, but they have now won only six of their last 16 fixtures and their most recent win came last October when they cruised to a 3-1 victory over Scotland. But just to put that into perspective, the Scots had lost in Israel just days earlier and since then they been embarrassed 3-0 by Kazakhstan and limped to a 2-0 win in San Marino, so beating an Alex McLeish side handily was hardly something to brag about.

So as you can see, Portugal are hardly unbeatable and, of course, Switzerland have shown in the past that they can beat the European champions. The Swiss stunned the Portuguese in their opening World Cup qualifier just months after Fernando Santos’ men were crowned kings of the continent, and had it not been for a late stumble they would have automatically qualified for the 2018 World Cup. They did take their second shot though and once again proved that they are not an easy team to get the better of in major tournaments.

Switzerland have never go their hands on silverware at one of the major international tournaments but when it comes to the group stage they are probably a team that most would like to avoid. Why is that? Because they make their opponents really work for the victory. Lionel Messi and his Argentina team-mates needed extra-time to finally beat the Swiss at the 2014 World Cup, and two years later Poland needed a penalty shoot-out to finally see them off. Then, at last summer’s World Cup, Sweden scraped past Vladimir Petkovic’s men thanks to a single goal in their last-16 tie, so this is a team that does not lay down when it gets to the knockout stage of any competition.

Couple that with Portugal’s knack for disappointing on the big stage and you do have the recipe for an upset in the semi-finals of the UEFA Nations League. However, I am going to stick my neck out and back the European champions to come up trumps here. They did run out 2-0 winners when the two teams met on the final night of World Cup qualifying in October 2017 and I believe that we will see more of the same here. They will be made to work for their place in the final, but ultimately they will find the breakthrough and that should set them on their way to a low-scoring win.

With that in mind, Under 2.5 Total Goals is also a solid bet for this match. It has been a winning bet on 10 of Portugal’s last 13 competitive fixtures and if Switzerland are to somehow pull off an upset, they will need to make sure that this is a game that lacks goals. They will almost certainly adopt a defensive approach in an attempt to frustrate Portugal and catch them out on the break, and that tactic is likely to limit the goal-scoring opportunities for both of these teams, resulting in the match producing no more than two goals.

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Portugal to avoid semi-final upset? Get UEFA Nations League tips

Portugal v Switzerland predictions for the UEFA Nations League semi-final on Wednesday, June 5.

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