After a disappointing World Cup, England begin their qualifying campaign for Euro 2016 away to Switzerland on Monday (19:45 BST, live on ITV).
The two nations have been drawn in qualification group E, alongside Estonia, Lithuania, San Marino and Slovenia. With two automatic qualification places on offer, plus the opportunity to qualify directly or through the playoffs by finishing third, both will be confident of qualifying.
England failed to make it out of their group at the World Cup, finishing bottom following defeats to Italy and Uruguay and a draw with Costa Rica. It had always looked a tough group, but the limpness of England’s exit was nevertheless unsatisfactory.
In some ways, Roy Hodgson was lucky to keep hold of his job – a feeling that was amplified by England’s uninspiring performance in a 1-0 friendly win over Norway on Wednesday. England did dominate possession – as Hodgson was quick to point out afterwards – but that domination was generally of a sterile nature and only generated two shots on target.
Raheem Sterling was probably England’s brightest performer, despite being constrained by a wide role in a 4-4-2. The Liverpool man won the decisive penalty, converted by the otherwise poor Wayne Rooney (pictured), and troubled the Norway defence with his direct dribbling. Getting the most out of him should be key to Hodgson’s thinking.
Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard both retired from international football following the World Cup, leaving Hodgson with a youthful group to work with. All but two of the players in his squad are under the age of 30. Whether he is inventive enough to come up with a structure capable of fully harnessing the talent at his disposal is, however, open to question.
Sturridge will miss Monday’s match due to a thigh injury he picked up in training on Friday. Ben Foster (thumb) and Jack Colback (calf) are also unavailable. Gary Cahill is expected to start after recovering from the ankle injury he picked up in the victory over Norway.
Switzerland enjoyed a better World Cup than England, finishing second behind France in a group also featuring Ecuador and Honduras before falling to a closely fought, extra-time defeat to Argentina in the round of 16.
Ottmar Hitzfeld retired after the tournament, paving the way for former Young Boys and Lazio coach Vladimir Petkovic to take charge. In contrast to the defensive-minded Hitzfeld, Petkovic likes his teams to attack. His Young Boys side utilised an adventurous 3-4-3 formation and were lauded for playing attractive attacking football.
Unlike England, Switzerland did not schedule a warm-up friendly, so it is difficult to know exactly what to expect from Petkovic’s side. His squad includes 18 of the 23 players Hitzfeld took to the World Cup, with goalkeeper Marwin Hitz, defenders Loris Benito and Silvan Widmer and midfielders Fabian Frei and Pajtim Kasami added in.
Switzerland possess a number of solid and hard-working players. The hope is that Petkovic’s focus on attack will bring better performances from the likes of Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, who, aside from his hat-trick against Honduras, disappointed during the World Cup. There is a good crop of players in their early-to-mid 20s for Petkovic to work with.
Switzerland appear to have no injury concerns coming into Monday’s match.
Switzerland vs England Betting Tips Advice
England and Switzerland were also drawn together in qualification for Euro 2012. England won 3-1 away from home, while the sides played out a 2-2 draw at Wembley. In total, they have met on 22 previous occasions, with England winning 14, Switzerland winning three and five matches ending in draws. All three Swiss victories came on home soil.
Switzerland will be keen to get their campaign off to a good start with a home victory and can be expected to take a relatively attacking approach if Petkovic’s coaching history is anything to go by. England will certainly have to be wary of the threat posed by Shaqiri, Xhaka and the dynamic full-back Ricardo Rodriguez.
Hodgson is likely to be content to come away from Basel with a point and we would not expect him to be particularly adventurous in the way he sets up his side. England will look to stay solid and compact, and will break forward whenever good opportunities present themselves. In the circumstances, we believe a draw is the most likely result.
- Back the draw @ best odds of 9/4 with Bet365 or Betfair Sportsbook.
- England will be keen to avoid letting in an early goal and are likely to start the match cautiously. Switzerland will come out on the front foot, but we believe England are capable of holding them off in the early exchanges. Therefore, back the time of the first goal to be over 28 minutes @ evens with BetVictor.