Why Cristiano Ronaldo has been dropped (possibly)
Fernando Santos wasn’t joking: he’s dropped Cristiano Ronaldo, apparently in response to Ronaldo effing and jeffing when he was taken off against South Korea. Either that or he has used Ronaldo’s outburst as an excuse to drop a player who is sadly past it.
We’ll have the full line-ups shortly.
Tonight’s winner will play Morocco or Spain in the quarter-finals. That match is about to go penalties, and John Brewin politely requests your company.
The story so far
Portugal turned it on the second half to beat Ghana 3-2 and Uruguay 2-0 and qualify with a game to spare. A much-changed side lost 2-1 to South Korea, but they still won the group.
Switzerland did the necessary against Cameroon, with Breel Embolo scoring the only goal against the country of his birth. Then they lost a tight game to Brazil, which set up a winner-takes-all clash with Serbia. Switzerland had the draw, too, but they didn’t need it: they came from behind to win a thrilling, spiky game 3-2.
Let’s get one thing clear from the start: this could be a long night. With the possible exception of Japan v Croatia – and look how that turned out – Portugal v Switzerland always felt like the closest match in the last 16. I’m not saying we should jump straight to the penalty shootout right now, but I’m not holding out much hope of watching The White Lotus at 9pm.
Whether it’s via penalties or not, one of these sides will achieve something pretty rare in the next few hours. Switzerland haven’t won a World Cup knockout game – or even scored a goal in one – since 1954, and Portugal, surprisingly for such a celebrated football nation, have only reached the last eight on two occasions. The first was in 1966, Eusebio and all that, and the second in 2006. There’s one survivor from that tournament in the current squad; you know his name.
Kick off 7pm GMT, 10pm in Qatar, 8pm in Lisbon and Bern.