Portugal coach Fernando Santos’ decision to make six changes against South Korea backfired, but it did not cost the squad the World Cup Group H title.
Cristiano Ronaldo was one of the few players that remained in the Portuguese squad for their final group game, but he was taken off the field after Heung-min Son spearheaded a Korean comeback from a 1-0 deficit to win 2-1 and qualify in the second place.
Six points from the group, however, was enough for Portugal to book a last-16 tie against Switzerland, who held off a spirited Serbia side in their final Group G match, winning 3-2 to finish second behind Brazil.
Santos appears set to bring back his first-choice players, including Manchester United playmaker Bruno Fernandes, who has two goals and two assists in this World Cup so far.
Bernardo Silva and Ruben Dias from Manchester City should also return, with Santos’ major concern being who to play at left-back with Nuno Mendes ruled out of the tournament. He may go with another United player, Diogo Dalot, and move Joao Cancelo to the left, or he could go with Borussia Dortmund’s seasoned Rafael Guerreiro.
Portugal XI: D.Costa; Cancelo, Dias, Pepe, Guerreiro; Neves, Carvalho, B. Silva, Fernandes; Felix, Ronaldo