Switzerland, despite their giant-killing act in Bucharest, remain the underdogs. And their job will only get tougher as the tournament progresses. The win against reigning world champions France in the round of 16 of UEFA Euro 2020 will, no doubt, go down as one of the greatest football matches in history. Now, the question is -- can they repeat that? They can, Spain allowing.
Spain almost faced the same fate as France. They also conceded an early goal in their round of 16 match against Croatia at Copenhagen, then lead 3-1 only to allow Luka Modric & Co to force an extra time. But unlike the French, Luis Enrique's men settled the issue with Alvaro Morata and Mikel Oyarzabal finding the back of the net in quick succession. Will they survive another frenetic match. They sure can. But a lot will depend on how Switzerland turn up on their big day. And the available manpower.
Here are the team sheets
Switzerland: Sommer, Elvedi, Akanji, Rodriguez, Widmer, Freuler, Zakaria, Zuber, Shaqiri, Embolo, Seferovic.
Subs: Mbabu, Vargas, Mvogo, Sow, Fassnacht, Benito, Gavranovic, Fernandes, Kobel, Schar, Comert, Lotomba.
Spain: Simon, Azpilicueta, Laporte, Pau Torres, Jordi Alba, Koke, Busquets, Gonzalez, Ferran Torres, Morata, Sarabia.
Subs: de Gea, Diego Llorente, Marcos Llorente, Gerard, Thiago, Garcia, Sanchez, Gaya, Rodri, Olmo, Traore, Oyarzabal.
Now the big news.
Switzerland will miss their captain and inspirational holding-midfielder Granit Xhaka, due to disciplinary issues. Yes. Yellow cards. He was booked in their Group A clash against Turkey, and again against France. Two bookings automatically suspend the players for the next match and the yellow cars expire only after the completion of the quarter-finals. The Arsenal star's absence will leave a massive hole in Switzerland's centre.
There's no such worry for Spain. Yes, David de Gea continues to recover but La Roja will hope for an error-free performance from Unai Simon, who comically let in an own goal from a distance.
By the way, Spain don't just become one of the most successful teams in the tournament. They have seen it all.
Head-to-head: In fact, historically, this is one fixture Spain really enjoyed. They have won 16 in their 22 meetings with Switzerland in all competitions. There were five draws too. Switzerland's only win came in the World Cup in South Africa, more than a decade ago.
But as always, there remains strong a warning. Underdogs love good scripts. And this particular edition of the UEFA European Championship is replete with such stories.
Match and telecast details
Match: 1st quarter-final match between Switzerland and Spain
Date: July 2 (Friday), 2020
Time: 9:30 PM IST
Venue: Krestovsky Stadium (Gazprom Arena), Saint Petersburg, Russia
TV Channels: Sony Sports Network
Live Streaming: SonyLIV
- This is the first meeting between Switzerland and Spain at the European Championship. Their three previous meetings in a major tournament came in the 1966, 1994 and 2010 World Cups, with Spain winning the first two and Switzerland triumphing last time out.
- This is Switzerland’s fourth quarter-final appearance in a major tournament (World Cup and Euro), and their first in the European Championship. The Swiss have lost each of their previous three such games -- 3-2 vs Czechoslovakia (1934), 2-0 vs Hungary (1938) and 7-5 vs Austria (1954).
- Spain have become the first team in European Championship history to score 5+ goals in consecutive games. They hadn’t scored more than four goals in any of their first 42 matches in the competition.
- Switzerland have scored three goals in each of their last two European Championship matches, having never scored more than twice in any of their first 15 in the competition. Switzerland last scored 3+ goals in three consecutive matches in all competitions in October 2017.
- Alvaro Morata has had more shots (15) and shots on target (8) than any other Spanish player so far at Euro 2020, and he’s also Spain’s joint highest scorer at this tournament (2). However, the other two players with two goals for Spain (Pablo Sarabia and Ferran Torres) have had fewer shots (13) and shots on target (7) combined than Morata.
- Switzerland’s Haris Seferovic has scored three goals in his last two games at the European Championship, having netted just one in his first 13 appearances at major tournaments (World Cup/Euro). The only Swiss player to score in three consecutive appearances within a major tournament was Josef Hugi in the 1954 World Cup.
- Ferran Torres has been involved in eight goals in his last nine appearances in all competitions for Spain (7 goals, 1 assist). Torres has scored in his last two games at the European Championship, with no Spanish player ever scoring in three in a row in the competition.
Switzerland: Yann Sommer, Nico Elvedi, Manuel Akanji, Ricardo Rodriguez, Kevin Mbabu, Remo Freuler, Denis Zakaria, Steven Zuber, Xherdan Shaqiri, Haris Seferovic, Breel Embolo.
Spain: Unai Simon, Cesar Azpilicueta, Eric Garcia, Aymeric Laporte, Jordi Alba, Koke, Sergio Busquets, Pedri, Ferran Torres, Alvaro Morata, Pablo Sarabia.
Switzerland: GK - Yann Sommer, Yvon Mvogo, Gregor Kobel; DF - Kevin Mbabu, Silvan Widmer, Nico Elvedi, Manuel Akanji, Ricardo Rodriguez, Loris Benito, Fabian Schar, Becir Omeragic, Eray Comert, Jordan Lotomba; MF - Denis Zakaria, Remo Freuler, Granit Xhaka, Ruben Vargas, Steven Zuber, Djibril Sow, Christian Fassnacht, Edimilson Fernandes, Xherdan Shaqiri; FW - Breel Embolo, Haris Seferovic, Admir Mehmedi, Mario Gavranovic.
Head coach: Vladimir Petkovic.
Spain: GK - David de Gea, Robert Sanchez, Unai Simon; DF - Cesar Azpilicueta, Diego Llorente, Pau Torres, Eric Garia, Jose Gaya, Jordi Alba, Aymeric Laporte, Sergio Busquets, Marcos Llorente, Koke, Thiago, Ferran Torres, Rodri, Fabian Ruiz, Dani Olmo, Adama Traore, Pablo Sarabia; FW - Alvaro Morata, Gerard Moreno, Mikel Oyarzabal, Pedri.
Head coach: Luis Enrique.