Switzerland will look to keep up with Denmark and Ireland as they host minnows Gibraltar at the Stade Tourbillon on Sunday.
Switzerland have had a mixed campaign so far in the European Championship 2020 qualifying campaign. They have played three games so far, winning only one while drawing the other two. With five points in three games, they are currently third in the Group D standings, behind Denmark and leaders Ireland, who have mustered 11 points in five games.
The home side could get level on points with second-placed Denmark with a win against Gibraltar. But, Switzerland will remain third in the standings given that the contest between them and the Danes ended in a 3-3 draw and as per the rules of the Qualifiers, Denmark get the advantage having scored three goals away from home.
Speaking of Gibraltar, they are among the weakest sides in this Euro 2020 qualifying round. The minnows have lost all four of their matches so far, notably losing 6-0 to Denmark in their last game. They are, in fact, one of the four teams in this qualifying, alongside San Marino, Liechtenstein and Andorra, that are yet to score a single goal so far.
Switzerland, meanwhile, are coming on the back of a 1-1 draw with Ireland, where a late goal from David McGoldrick cost them two points. They will be desperate to get back to winning ways. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of this exciting fixture on Sunday.
Team News & Tactics
Vladimir Petkovic has embraced a three at the back setup, of late. But, the Swiss mastermind is likely to revert to a four-man backline. Jonas Omlin could be given a rare start against Gibraltar, having made an impressive breakthrough at FC Basel.
Kevin Mbabu is a guaranteed starter at right-back, with Ricardo Rodriguez starting on the opposite flank. Manuel Akanji meanwhile will be leading the four-man backline. The Borussia Dortmund star will be partnered by Eray Comert, who is another young individual likely to get a chance in this encounter. Nico Elvedi and Fabian Schar are the other options.
Captain Granit Xhaka is a guaranteed starter and will be deployed at the base of the 4-3-3, alongside Remo Freuler and Denis Zakaria, who is having a good time in the Bundesliga this season.
And finally, in attack, Breel Embolo is expected to leading the line. The ex-Basel prodigy has had an excellent start with Gladbach so far and will spearhead the Swiss attack. Ruben Vargas has also impressed in the Bundesliga, after signing for FC Augsburg this summer.
He will be rewarded with a start at left-wing, with Admir Mehmedi starting on the opposite flank. They will look to provide service to lone striker Embolo, though Mehmedi is likely to drift into a more central role.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Omlin; Mbabu, Akanji, Comert, Rodriguez; Xhaka, Zakaria, Freuler; Mehmedi, Embolo, Vargas
Gibraltar will, no doubt, play ultra-defensive football against a Switzerland side that has a pretty good attacking lineup. Coach Julio Ribas will employ a deep defensive block, with the midfielders likely to join the defenders during the defensive phases. Their primary objective will be to keep a clean sheet, which, in fairness, will be a significant achievement.
Captain Roy Chipolina is one of the most experienced players in the Gibraltar side, having won 37 caps. He will partner his cousin Joseph Chipolina at the heart of the four-man backline, with Jack Sergeant and Jayce Olivero retaining their roles as wide defenders.
These two players are likely to be deployed in a more central role, however, with the wide midfielders almost operating as fullbacks. The wide midfielders will be Anthony Hernandez and Ethan Britto, though Alain Pons is also an option, should Ribas opts to play more attacking football.
It won’t be surprising to see Gibraltar employing a 4-4-2 setup, with Tjay De Barr partnering Reece Styche in attack. Dylan Peacock, meanwhile, is also poised to earn his first cap after being called up to the national team.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Coleing; Sargeant, Chipolina, Chipolina, Olivero; Britto, Hernandez, Walker, Hernandez; De Barr, Styche
- Gibraltar are one of only four teams yet to score a goal in the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.
- Gibraltar’s last win came against Lichtenstein way back in October of last year, in the UEFA Nations League. They won that game 2-1.
- Switzerland have kept only two sheets in their last ten matches, one of which came against minnows Georgia.
- Switzerland are one of the most prolific goalscoring nations in Europe. But, they have scored only two goals in their last three matches.
- Only San Marino, Liechtenstein, Latvia and Faroe Islands boast a worse goal difference than Gibraltar (-12) in the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers.
Player to Watch
As mentioned earlier, Vargas has enjoyed an excellent start to his life in Germany, after joining Augsburg from FC Luzern this summer. He has, in fact, scored three goals in three matches, which is 75% of what Augsburg have managed as a whole this season.
As a result of his performances, Vargas has been called up to the national team fold as a replacement for Haris Seferpvoc. He is now poised to make his debut for La Nati.
A left-winger by trade, the 21-year-old always looks for an opportunity to find the back of the net. He also has quick feet that allow him to wriggle through tight spaces and drift past defenders. Vargas, in many ways, can be compared to Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri. And it will be interesting to see how he fares in his Switzerland debut this weekend.
Switzerland 4-0 Gibraltar
Switzerland’s exciting attack could prove to be way too much for a Gibraltar side that has looked vulnerable in defence. They have also provided zero threat going forward, meaning it’s unlikely they will be able to cause an upset on Sunday. We expect a comprehensive 4-0 win for the hosts.