Four things we learnt from Portugal's impressive display against Switzerland
Players of Portugal celebrate after scoring a goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Portugal and Switzerland, at Lusail Stadium on December 06, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. (Photo by Fareed Kotb/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A hat-trick from Gonçalo Ramos on his first proper World Cup start, a stunning curler from Rafael Leao, a header from the veteran Pepe and a goal from Borussia Dortmund's Raphael Guerreiro was enough to see off Switzerland to secure Portugal's name in the quarter-final stages along with the likes of tournament favourites Brazil, France and England

Manchester City's Manuel Akanji was on target for Switzerland, but they couldn't handle the flurry of attacking threat that was thrown at them for the majority of the game.

It means that on paper have they have the most favourable tie against Morocco, but they are no easy test, defending well and knocking out Spain on penalties.  

Here's four things we learnt from the game...

  • No Ronaldo = No Problem

Despite doing not much to see his place in the starting 11 removed, Fernando Santos decided to take a leaf out of Erik ten Hag's book and drop the 37-year-old in their most important game of the tournament yet. 

But up stepped Gonçalo Ramos. The 21-year-old from Benfica has nine goals in 11 games for his club, and he was a real surprise to the Switzerland side. The first came after only 17 minutes, taking the ball onto his left foot and beating Yann Sommer at his near post with an emphatic strike into the roof of the net. 

It was then in the 51st minute, his first-time finish off Diogo Dalot's cross put Portugal three goals up, nutmegging Sommer this time in the process and neatly into the bottom right corner. 

The first hat-trick of the tournament was sealed beautifully in the 67th minute, with a delicate chip after being played through intelligently by Joao Felix

It was a big statement by Santos to drop Ronaldo, but Portugal didn't miss their talisman at all, and it was Ramos that was the man that people are talking about as Saturday's game beckons against Morocco. 

  • The youth are coming

It's sometimes hard to remember in today's day and age that some of these players are still incredibly young, despite how well they are performing on the world's biggest stage. Diogo Dalot (23), Joao Felix (23), Gonçalo Ramos (21) & Rafael Leao (23) are all flourishing for this Portugal side, yet they have so many years ahead of them. 

Felix has had a lot of pressure on him since Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid broke the bank and spent £112.9million on him back in 2019. But he was a significant part of Portugal's attack not only yesterday but throughout the group stages, cementing himself as a second number nine with Ronaldo or Ramos. 

But it was Rafael Leao that everyone has talked up, whether it's his smile, his technical ability, his celebration, or a mix of all that create such a likeable player. Not only is he fast, his play style is beautiful to watch and he has been dominating Serie A clubs' defences this season with AC Milan, scoring six and assisting four so far. His goal in stoppage time wasn't him jumping in on the action, but a well-worked goal with a delicious finish. The ball flew past Sommer and straight into the top corner, similar to what Kylian Mbappe did to Wojciech Szczesny the other day, leaving the goalkeeper stranded with no chance. 

So as the youth continue to impress, Portugal especially look like a side that everyone will have their eyes on as they continue to perform on the world's biggest stages in Qatar

  • It wasn't their day

Switzerland aren't a bad side. In fact, they are quite effective in what they do. Their main source of goals is Breel Embolo, and when Embolo isn't firing, it often doesn't see them progressing. The AS Monaco striker didn't have his best boots on because he didn't get many opportunities, and therefore Switzerland lacked an end-product. 

Granit Xhaka has been nothing short of excellent for Arsenal, but can't put a stamp on the Swiss side that he captains because he is forced to sit deep in an effort to block the constant threat that Portugal's attacking midfielders and wingers relentlessly supply. 

The Swiss side are well-balanced but are nothing to call home about, and a rampant Portugal side on paper are set to run through them, like they did do at the Lusail Stadium

  • Maybe a restructure is on the cards

In order to look a threat, maybe Switzerland need to strategise again. The likes of Sommer, Ricardo Rodriguez, Xherdan Shaqiri and Remo Freuler may have seen their last World Cup, whereas players like Granit Xhaka, Nico Elvedi, Noah Okafor and Denis Zakaria may require a switch of tactics to rejuvenate the side. 

It's no doubt that Switzerland do boast some talent, but whether it's used to its full extent is debatable. Gregor Kobel is doing a splendid job at Borussia Dortmund, the same can be said with Noah Okafor at RB Salzburg. So it's whether by the next time we see the Swiss side in a tournament, will there be a reshape is the big question.  

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