Euro 2020 quarter-final: Switzerland vs. Spain preview, team news and predictions
Swiss are in dreamland but can they make more history against free-scoring Spain?
After their shock shoot-out victory over world champions France the reward for Switzerland is another huge challenge when they take on Spain in the Euro 2020 quarter-finals.
In the round of 16 the Swiss made history by winning their first ever Euro knockout tie - it was also their first ever victory against France in a competitive match.
Captain and midfielder Granit Xhaka summed up the feelings of the Swiss when speaking to reporters after the match: “We wrote the history of this footballing nation. We are dreaming now.”
With nine minutes to go in normal time Switzerland were 3-1 down against France, but they scored two late goals to force extra-time then came through to win the penalty shoot-out 5-4.
Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer, who saved Kylian Mbappe’s spot-kick, hailed his team-mates for their “big mentality”. The keeper told SRF: “We said to ourselves that whatever happens, whatever the scenario, we will go to the end, to the end. Quarter-final: that’s history. We absolutely wanted to do it, we are proud.”
If Sommer and Co are to progress even further in Euro 2020 then they will have to stop the attacking threat of free-scoring Spain. “La Roja” come into the last eight having scored ten goals in their previous two games. They ended the group stage with a 5-0 win over Slovakia then in the round of 16 beat Croatia 5-3 after extra time.
Despite their rich goalscoring form, Spain head coach Luis Enrique is expecting a “very complicated” match against the Swiss. “As a group, for how they attack and defend, they are a very good team and I predict a very difficult game for us,” he said. “They are opponents that don’t gamble on throwing everything at you, that know exactly what they are doing. They attack and defend well, they play really well as a team and they make matches difficult for their opponent.”
The winners of this tie will play Belgium or Italy in the semi-final at Wembley on Tuesday 6 July.
Kick-off time and TV details
The quarter-final clash between Switzerland and Spain takes place on Friday 2 July at the Krestovsky Stadium in St Petersburg, Russia. Kick-off is at 5pm (BST) and the match is live on ITV and ITV Hub.
Switzerland team news
The big team news is that Switzerland will be without their captain Granit Xhaka, who is suspended for the quarter-final tie. Otherwise Vladimir Petković has a full squad to choose from.
In the absence of the suspended Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri will captain the Swiss. “I am very proud to lead the team in such an important match, and I want to show my skills and help the team,” he said. “We have shown that we don’t only defend and can score more than one goal. If we show our football on the pitch, everything is possible.”
Kevin Mbabu is an option on the right and Mario Gavranović may be best used as an impact sub, says Uefa.com reporter Vieri Capretta.
Switzerland possible starting XI (3-4-1-2): Sommer; Elvedi, Akanji, Rodríguez; Widmer, Freuler, Zakaria, Zuber; Shaqiri; Embolo, Seferović
Spain team news
Jordi Alba will probably return to the Spanish side, but apart from him there will be “minimum changes for this big test”, says Uefa.com reporter Graham Hunter. Eric García and Aymeric Laporte should remain at centre-back.
Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea and Valencia left-back Jose Luis Gaya are both doubts due to injury.
Spain possible starting XI (4-3-3): Unai Simón; Azpilicueta, Eric García, Laporte, Alba; Koke, Busquets, Pedri; Sarabia, Morata, Ferran Torres
Pundit predictions: who will win?
Alex Young, London Evening Standard: “The absence of Granit Xhaka is huge for Switzerland and likely to be crucial to the final result. The Arsenal midfielder has been influential throughout the tournament and Spain are firm favourites, if they weren’t already, with him ruled out. Spain have found their scoring touch, but are still so weak at the back. Expecting goals in this one. Switzerland 1-3 Spain.”
The Independent: “The Swiss must come down to ground from that emotional rollercoaster against France and that will be their biggest challenge. It may prove too much against a Spanish side who are starting to click into gear. Spain 2-0 Switzerland.”
Matt Law, SportsMole: “This is a very, very dangerous game for Spain, as Switzerland will be full of confidence following their win over France. La Roja have shown a lot of encouraging signs in their last two fixtures, though, and we fancy Enrique’s side to advance to the final eight courtesy of a 2-1 win, which could come after extra-time.”
Abhinav Anand, SportsKeeda: “Spain are finding their groove after a slow start to the tournament. They have scored five goals in their last two games, and the likes of Sarabia, Morata and Torres have impressed. With both Portugal and France out of the tournament, Spain will fancy their chances of going all the way now. Spain will be the favourites, although Switzerland will not make it easy for them. Prediction: Switzerland 1-3 Spain.”
Greg Lea, WSN: “This could be a game too far for Switzerland. Their dramatic triumph over France will have taken a lot out of the players both physically and mentally, which could be a particularly decisive issue given that Spain will dominate possession here. Spain have found form at just the right time, and their possession-heavy approach has not come at the expense of chance creation. Back a Spanish win and at least two goals.”
Utkarsh Gathani, FootTheBall: “Both teams sweated themselves out for 120 minutes in the previous match and the fatigue will definitely kick in during the match. Despite all the tired legs, both Spain and Switzerland are expected to give their all for a place in the semi-final. Spain is the clear favourite amongst the two but another upset might just be on the cards seeing what happened in Switzerland’s last game. However, Luis Enrique and his men will do their best to avoid any mishaps. FootTheBall predicts a 3-2 win for Spain.”
Sreehari Menon, RepublicWorld.com: “Spain became the first team to score five goals in consecutive European Championship games, and have well and truly bounced back from their lacklustre performances in the opening two games. Luis Enrique will be counting on his team to continue their good form and will be one of the teams to watch out for. Switzerland did the unthinkable by knocking out France, but a second consecutive upset looks too much ask from the side.”