The Uefa Euro 2020 is quickly approaching. The top football nations in Europe will battle it out to see who gets to be called the best national team in Europe. The 2016 Euros saw a Portuguese team captained by Cristiano Ronaldo take home the trophy.
In the 2016 tournament, Switzerland lost a heartbreaking match in penalties to a Polish team led by Robert Lewandowski in the round of 16. The Swiss missed one of their penalties when Arsenal skipper Granit Xhaka shot is attempt way wide of the goal. The game was a tough loss for the Swiss. That was the same match where Switzerland and Liverpool midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri scored undoubtedly the best goal of the tournament. With the Swiss being down by one goal late in the match, Shaqiri volleyed a cross that met him in the box with a bicycle kick. It was unfortunate the Swiss couldn’t win that match.
The 2020 tournament will have most of the star Swiss players from the 2018 World Cup, barring any injuries occur beforehand. Star players Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka, Ricardo Rodriguez and Yann Sommer will all be back for their second go at the European title. Breel Embolo of Wolfsburg played in the 2016 tournament as well, but didn’t receive a lot of minutes. Expect a bigger role from his this time around. New Swiss gems have emerged since the last tournament, both Denis Zakaria and Manuel Akanji played important roles in Russia at the World Cup for The Nati (Swiss nickname for the national team). Expect both of these players to be in the Swiss starting XI.
Gavranovic Embolo Shaqiri
Rodriguez Akanji Schar Lang
There are a couple different options for the starting XI for Switzerland. This is what I think manager Vladimir Petkovic should run with for the start of the tournament.
I choose a 4-2-3-1 formation for the team. Yann Sommer has had the starting job for the Swiss since Diego Benaglio retired from the national team. Roam Burki is the top goalie for Borussia Dortmund but hasn’t been the number one for the Swiss. He didn’t participate in the qualifiers, so he will be the backup unless Sommer is injured. Akanji may be one of the best young centre backs in the world. He was on the all-tournament team for the 2019 Nations League finals. The Dortmund defender played great at the 2018 World Cup and will no doubt be in the starting XI. Schar has been starting for the Swiss the last few international tournaments and I don’t see him losing his spot. Nico Elvedi is also an option here but he could also be used as a fullback, so the Swiss will most likely keep him in the subs. In the past, Switzerland has opted to play two central defensive midfielders, Xhaka and Behrami or Xhaka and Zakaria. This allows the two crafty full backs, Rodriguez and Lang the opportunity to make runs and the two CDM’s will slide back. Giving Switzerland five at the back when the fullbacks are up in the play. I went with Gavranovich in the left midfielder position because the Swiss don’t have a solidified option in that position. Embolo will be in the centre midfield position where he can play directly under the striker. Shaqiri will be playing the right midfield position because he is versatile enough the make astonishing crosses from the wing and he has an elite ability to cut through the middle and either rifle a shot on goal or dip a pass to a teammate who will be making a run. Seferovic will be the lone striker in this formation. He always seems to find the back of the net whether it is internationally or with his club. With Embolo and Shaqiri crafty enough to make make runs up with the back, Seferovic isn’t really alone at the top. Formations like this has worked for Switzerland in the past. If there is one thing I would urge the coach to not change from this formation, I would not change the two CDM’s. If you want to have the fullbacks turn into wingbacks then you need the defensive stability of Xhaka and Zakaria covering for them.
The Swiss have made the knockout stage in every tournament since the 2014 World Cup. They Have also lost all three of those round of 16 games by one goal in extra time. Two in the World Cup and one in the Euros. In 2020 they will be in the same group as Turkey, Italy and Wales. All three teams are very good but if the Swiss play good team football, they will advance out of the group. I believe they will break through this time around. This is the best Swiss team ever and they are better than a round of 16 finish. I could see them making it to the quarter finals or even the semi finals. Since they haven’t made it that far in the knockout stages I will say the Swiss will finish in the quarter finals, but watch out. It is very possible for them to make it to the semi-finals. They made it to the nations league finals and played great in both games. Switzerland is definitely a dark horse to win the tournament.