David John expects Portugal to pip Switzerland to automatic qualification for Russia when they meet in Lisbon on Tuesday.
Some of Europe’s big guns have left it until the 11th hour to book a place at next summer’s World Cup finals with France, Portugal and Holland all teetering on the brink.
It is time for the latter-named to offer up a prayer in Group A as they require a minor miracle at home against Sweden to even reach next month’s play-off stage while the French currently hold pole position and will top the standings if they can match whatever the Swedes achieve in Amsterdam.
While that trio untangle the remaining threads of the campaign, Portugal and Switzerland are involved in the evening’s most compelling match as they decide who does what next in Group B.
The Swiss are a perfect nine from nine and hold the whip hand thanks to their opening 2-0 success over the Portuguese way back at the start of September 2016 but they have still not been able to shake-off Cristiano Ronaldo and company.
Ronaldo was notable by his absence for that clash in Basel and the Real Madrid superstar came off the bench at half-time to play his part at the weekend in a 2-0 victory on a very dodgy pitch over Andorra to keep them in hot pursuit.
All eyes now switch to Lisbon and victory for the hosts will ensure they progress straight through to Russia thanks to a much superior goal difference.
However, the Swiss possess the confidence of a team yet to drop a point in qualification and arrive on the back of a convincing 5-2 drubbing of Hungary, readily sweeping aside the group’s third-place side despite a couple of clangers in goal from Yann Sommer.
You can back them in the region of 5/1 for all three points but this is exactly the sort of game Ronaldo and the reigning European champions tend to find a way of scratching out the required result.
The money from punters in the build-up has been flooding in their direction too and to my mind, the outcome rests very much on how Switzerland cope with the situation.
They have led all the way during the qualifying process and now face being mugged right on the line and forced to progress via the dreaded play-offs.
Knowing a draw will suffice can sometimes act as a burden in terms of tactics and strategy – protect what you have and hope for the best or try to get on the front foot and make the most of this golden opportunity they have worked so impressively to achieve?
All is not lost if they do succumb in Lisbon but unfortunately for the Swiss, I think that Portugal are going to consign them to second place and having to turn out once again in November.
On that basis, there are a couple of bets I like which revolve around a narrow home victory.
Portugal to prevail following a stalemate at the break is a tempting option along with a one-goal winning margin for them as the talismanic Ronaldo yet again finds a way to carve out some meaningful employment for his nation next June.
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Posted at 1810 BST on 09/10/17.