After defeat to Spain on Saturday, England will seek to get back to winning ways when they host Switzerland in a friendly at the King Power Stadium in Leicester (8pm Tuesday, live on Sky Sports).
On the balance of chances, a draw would not have been an unfair result against Spain in England’s UEFA Nations League opener. They carried a threat from set-piece situations and created two or three presentable chances in open play in an eventual 1-2 defeat.
It was a performance similar to those that surprisingly powered Gareth Southgate’s side through to the final four of the World Cup in the summer. Spain were more accomplished in possession and appeared to have the match under control for fairly long stretches, but England could never be discounted despite largely looking second-best tactically.
Southgate had said beforehand that his side would have to show more composure when pressured in possession if they wanted to improve as a team, and it was from a move that began in tight confines in their own half that England took the lead. The ball was moved out to the fast-advancing Luke Shaw for a perfect low cross finished by Marcus Rashford.
England’s joy didn’t last long. Spain swiftly equalised with a good move of their own before slack marking allowed Rodrigo to sneak in at the near post to convert a low free-kick to put them ahead on the half-hour. There were plenty of instances when Southgate’s team created problems for themselves when attempting to play out short from the back.
Midfield was a problem area for England during the World Cup, especially in terms of progressing the ball through the central areas. Saturday’s evidence suggested there is still a lot of work to do be done. Dele Alli was able to find space between the lines at times, while Jesse Lingard seemed to wake up in the final 20 minutes or so, but those two and Jordan Henderson rarely looked anywhere near as cohesive a unit as the Spain midfield.
Going so far at the World Cup was an excellent achievement but it is clear that England need to make tangible improvements to their collective play in possession if they hope to replicate or even better that run at Euro 2020.
Like England, Switzerland were involved in the World Cup in Russia. They made it through their group with a credible draw with Brazil, a thrilling come-from-behind victory over Serbia and another draw against Costa Rica with qualification already sealed. They were, however, disappointed to fall to a 0-1 defeat to Sweden in the first knockout round.
Vladimir Petkovic has remained as head coach and the squad also remains relatively stable, with 16 of those who were part of the group in Russia again called up. There has, though, been some controversy over some of the players he has left out, including experienced midfield mainstays Blerim Dzemaili and Valon Behrami.
Petkovic insists that he just wants to look at different options before Switzerland’s Euro 2020 qualifying campaign gets underway next year. His decision to leave out some players of dual nationality has been interpreted as a political move in some quarters.
His squad for this international break featured five uncapped players, of which three were given their debuts in Switzerland’s highly impressive 6-0 win at home to Iceland in the UEFA Nations League on Saturday. Steven Zuber and Denis Zakaria struck to put them two up at the interval. They then turned on the style after the break, with goals from Xherdan Shaqiri, Hans Seferovic, debut substitute Albian Ajeti and Admir Mehmedi making it six.
It was an excellent result and performance and one that hinted at the potential of a national team who have some solid talents coming through and who have only lost three of their last 27 internationals – one of those on penalties. They should certainly not be taken lightly despite the fact that England have won five of the last six matches between the sides, last lost to Switzerland back in 1981 and have never been defeated by them on home soil.
Our Preview’s England vs. Switzerland Betting Tips Verdict
Indeed, with the UK sports betting sites having England as odds-on favourites to win, Switzerland look pretty attractive value to get a result at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday.
- Bet on Switzerland to win @ 9/2 with Betfred.