For the Portugal-Turkey play-off this Thursday night, “LeMatin.ch» took the temperature with players of Portuguese descent who played (or have played) in Switzerland.
So of course there is this potential Portugal-Italy play-off final that everyone is (already) talking about and which will leave one of the great football nations of this world on the floor next Tuesday. How to think that the reigning European champion or his predecessor of 2016 does not see Qatar? However, this is definitely going to happen.
But before this final, a semi-final must be negotiated for each of the two countries. Portugal will receive Turkey this Thursday evening, at the same time that Italy will take on North Macedonia (8:45 PM).
To take stock for this deciding match(s), lematin.ch took the temperature with three players in Swiss football – current or past – of Portuguese descent. In order of seniority: Paulo Diogo, José Gonçalves and Mike Gomes.
Paul Diogo, now 46, is of Portuguese descent but was born in Switzerland. This midfielder was a professional player from 1994 to 2009, successively playing for Lausanne-Sports, Yverdon, Servette, Grenoble, Sion and Schaffhausen, before ending his career in Lausanne.
His opinion for Portugal – Turkey: “In a knockout match there is always danger. Portugal lost a first chance to qualify directly by crashing at home against Serbia (loss 1-2 last November), he has no right to pass up the last chance offered to him. On paper there is quality, especially on the offensive level. It will be a matter of finding the right balance. The only reservation I have is that depending on the quality of the players, we still suffer too often in the game. Last time against Sweden we won thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo (Read below)† I hope it will be the same this time. We should not forget that if Portugal qualify, the World Cup in Qatar could well be Ronaldo’s last. This should be an extra motivation for the whole team. Then, in the final against Italy – if this scenario comes to pass – things get hot. Even if the Squadra was a little less so last fall, it’s still a great team, with a great coach.
Jose Goncalves, 36, was born in Lisbon in September 1985. But it was in La Sallaz, above Lausanne, that he grew up. His professional career has taken him to Basel, Winterthur, Venice (Italy), Thun (with a fantastic epic in the Champions League), Kaunas (Lithuania), Heart of Midlothian (Scotland), Nuremberg (Germany), Saint-Gall, Zion and the New England Revolution (MLS/US). He has 3 caps with Portugal U21 national team.
His opinion for Portugal – Turkey: “I’m not really worried about Portugal for two reasons. The first is that the selecao has experience with these kinds of matches, has had to play quite a few play-off matches in recent years. And then the accumulated titles, especially the win at Euro 2016, boosted the team’s confidence. I am convinced that Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates will approach this match with all due seriousness. Everyone is already talking about the final against Italy, but watch out for Turkey. It is a team that defends well. But Turks are warm-blooded and tend to get lost when things don’t go their way. I hope Portugal can take advantage of this. But I think it’s 50/50.
Mike Gomes, who is 33, was born in Neuchâtel. He has always worn the colors of NE Xamax, with the exception of six months with Yverdon and one season with Servette FC. When he returned to Xamax in 2013, he never left his original club.
His opinion for Portugal – Turkey: “Before we think about the final, it is a matter of good negotiations about this match against Turkey. The big advantage of Portugal is that they play at home. I wouldn’t speak in the same way if it had been necessary to play in Istanbul. Portugal’s great asset is its attacking attacking power, with Cristiano Ronaldo of course, but also Bruno Fernandes, João Felix or Diogo Jota. My concern is the defensive stability of the team: the withdrawals of Pepe and Ruben Neves are palpable. In my opinion, Portugal is a very slight favorite. And I hope the final will take place against Italy: my wife is Italian! We must be a little confused when this scenario occurs. This will help our 3-year-old son take his side!”
If Portugal has achieved direct qualification at the last three major tournaments – Euro 2016 (with a win in the key), World Cup 2018 and Euro 2020 (disputed last year) – it has struggled much more in the three previous editions as he had to go through the barrages every time.
He qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa by painfully beating Bosnia and Herzegovina twice (twice 1-0). Rebelote against the same opponent when he had to win his ticket to Euro 2012 (0-0 on the way out, big win 6-2 on the return). Finally, he had to knock out Sweden’s Ibrahimovic to gain the right to participate in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Victory 1-0 in Sweden, then 3-2 in Portugal (four goals from Cristiano Ronaldo for the Selection†
Will this habit of playing cleavers benefit CR7 and his teammates? Answer this Thursday night, and maybe next Tuesday. † R.Ty