Euro 2020: Switzerland vs Spain
Euro Quarter-finals | July 2 | St Petersburg
Their Euros So Far
Shall we just ignore the details of their group stage progress and just talk about their ridiculously entertaining and dramatic round of 16 games instead? Done!
Both teams created personal history and Euro history in the first-round knockout stages. Switzerland came back and overcame world champions and ‘everybody’s’ Euro favourites France on penalties, whilst Spain were victorious in an eight goal thriller against Croatia, all in a single day of Euro football that will arguably go down as one of the most exciting Euro days ever! First, let’s talk about Spain…
Luis Enrique’s men came up against 2018 World Cup finalists, Croatia. Things started catastrophically when a back-pass from Pedri was misjudged by goalkeeper Unai Simon, leading to an unfortunate own-goal for the Barca starlet.
Spain then bounced back via Pablo Sarabia to go in all square at half-time, before La Roja stepped it up further after the break with two goals to set up a 3-1 lead that seemed to put them on the path to the quarter-finals. Croatia had other ideas; two late goals including one in injury time somehow taking the tie to extra-time!
With momentum now firmly with Croatia, Spain needed to fight back, and they did so through a stunning goal from struggling striker Alvaro Morata, and Mikel Oyarzabal just three minutes later. In 120 minutes of football, Spain had gone behind, come back, went ahead, conceded a draw, then a final comeback to win and progress. Absolute grit from the three-time Euro champions who set a Euro record for being the first team to score five goals in successive Euro games.
If that wasn’t enough drama for one day of football, then there was Switzerland…
Most people could have been forgiven for writing off the Swiss against the French, but Vladimir Petkovic’s side were having none of it. His side took the lead early on, courtesy of a towering header from striker Haris Seferovic. They then missed the chance to double that lead when Hugo Lloris saved a Swiss penalty before the hour mark.
Momentum then went with the French who then scored three goals in twenty minutes – including a Pogba pearler – seemingly putting them en route to the Euro quarter-finals. But Switzerland weren’t done. Inspire by man of the match Granit Xhaka, they pulled one back on 81 minutes, a second goal from Seferovic, before Mario Gavranovic then rifled in an equaliser deep, deep into stoppage time.
Extra time soon passed and penalties beckoned. Each side despatched their penalties until France’s last – up stepped Kylian Mbappe who could not beat Swiss goalkeeper and new national hero, Yan Sommer! Switzerland had won their first ever Euro knockout tie, their first competitive penalty shootout, and their first finals knockout win since the 1938 World Cup. And all this against the current world champions.
Now for the quarter-finals between two teams who have just given everything to get here…
Euro Squad News
After both sides played out 120 minutes of exhaustingly competitive football in their last games, there are some concerns and considerations for Vladimir Petkovic and Luis Enrique to work out. Firstly, Granit Xhaka – so key for the Swiss against the French – will miss the game with Spain due to suspension, otherwise, the Swiss have a pretty much full squad to choose from.
Petkovic has fielded a 3-4-1-2 formation in all four fixtures so far, with two wingbacks. Denis Zakaria could potentially come in alongside Remo Freuler, providing the required support to their three-man defence against a Spain side that have just plundered 10 goals in two games.
Breel Embolo has been an essential part of the Swiss success so far, the Monchengladbach winger was a consistent thorn in the French side, being fouled a number of times in attacking positions. He will be hoping to cause similar problems for Spain.
For La Roja, defender Jordi Alba is expected to return after missing the last game to avoid suspension. Midfielder Marcus Llorente will also be back in contention, and Man City’s Ferran Torres could be in with a shout after scoring in the last game.
Tellingly, out of all the meetings between the teams, Spain have won sixteen to Switzerland’s one. That single Swiss victory was in a 2010 World Cup game, a narrow 1-0 win.
The sides haven’t met at a Euro tournament before, but prior to the 2010 World Cup they did meet at the 1994 World Cup, with Spain winning 3-0 and current manager Luis Enrique being a scorer that day!
Most recently, the teams did meet in the Nations League, with Spain winning 1-0 at home and current squad member Mikel Oyarzabal scoring. This was then followed by a 1-1 draw on Swiss soil, with goals from Remo Freuler and Gerard Moreno respectively.
So, will Switzerland be inspired by their big French upset? Or will Spain roll on towards a fourth Euro victory?