Switzerland enter the Euros this summer in what is possibly the most intriguing group of the tournament. Group A also features Italy, Wales and Turkey, and is considered the hardest to call in terms of who will progress to the knockout stages. The latest Euros odds have the Swiss as second favourites to escape Group A behind Italy – but that could very easily change.
Switzerland are enjoying something of a golden period in terms of international football. They have reached the last-16 stage of each of their last three major tournaments. Star men Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri, Ricardo Rodriguez, Haris Seferovic and Fabian Schar play at top clubs in Europe, while a group of youngsters – including Djibril Sow, Breel Embolo, and Ruben Vargas – are worth keeping an eye on this summer.
The Switzerland Euro qualification campaign began with a 2-0 win over Georgia and resulted in them topping Group D by a point ahead of Denmark. They lost just one game during that campaign and boasted 15 different goalscorers. Striker Cedric Itten top scored for the team with just three goals.
Head coach Vladimir Petkovic likes to deploy a 3-4-1-2 system where the midfield wingers can drop and act as full-backs when required. It gives the team, which is centred on Xhaka and Remo Freuler in the heart of midfield, the flexibility to quickly transition out of defence into attack. Shaqiri is the focal point of that offence and sits just behind the two strikers, usually Embolo and Seferovic. As a team they can sting quickly but the downfall is the wingers tend to tire as games progress, which means Petkovic is often changing his midfield.
In 2016 Switzerland escaped their Euro group for the first time after three previous attempts. They were subsequently beaten by Poland on penalties in the round-of-16. Switzerland are expected to reach that stage this summer but Group A is likely to prove tricky. Petkovic’s men kick off their tournament against Wales in Rome on 12 June, where they will likely wear the away Switzerland Euro kit to avoid a clash of reds. Four days later they play Italy at the Stadio Olimpico, before then traveling to Baku for a final group game against Turkey.
Wales are the only group opponent over whom Switzerland have a winning record (W5 L2). Yet they have drawn their last three games with Italy and have managed to avoid defeat to Turkey in four of their eight previous meetings. Should Switzerland finish second in Group A they could well end up facing Denmark in the last-16 in Amsterdam. The Swiss have not beaten Denmark in four previous attempts.
Granit Xhaka (c)