Switzerland kick off the first of two crucial qualifiers on Saturday afternoon, as they meet Denmark in Copenhagen.
Sitting three points off the top of Group D with a game in hand, it’s an absolute must-win game for the Schweizer Nati. They will be hoping for a repeat of their previous outing, where they thrashed Gibraltar 4-0 in September to extend their unbeaten record in the group.
Denmark will be stern opposition, as they are also yet to lose a group game. The Red and White recorded two emphatic wins over Georgia and Gibraltar to move in on top spot, but a goalless draw in Georgia last time out means defeat will see the Swiss move above them in the table.
Here’s everything you need to know about Switzerland’s critical EURO 2020 qualifier.
|When is it?||Saturday 12 October 2019|
|What time is kick-off?||18:00 local time (17:00 UK)|
|Where is it?||Parken Stadium, Copenhagen|
|Where can I watch it?||Sky Sports Football (UK), SRF Zwei (SUI)|
Switzerland are without three key players, with all missing out through injury. Timm Klose and Steven Zuber remain sidelined, while Liverpool’s Xherdan Shaqiri is absent from the selection this time due to injury, rather than choosing to abstain like he did in September.
Captain Stephan Lichtsteiner also returns to Vladimir Petković’s squad, after a strong start to the season with new club Augsburg. Granit Xhaka is available for Saturday’s clash, having re-joined the team following the birth of his daughter on Monday.
Åge Hareide named two uncapped players in the latest Denmark squad, among regulars such as Christian Eriksen and Kasper Schmeichel. Bournemouth midfielder Philip Billing and Lyon defender Joachim Andersen earned their first national team callups, as they come into an experienced side.
The Swiss recorded a vital victory over Gibraltar last time out, ending a run of four games without a win. That came after a costly 1-1 draw with the Republic of Ireland, where a late Irish equaliser cancelled out Fabian Schär’s wonderful goal.
While the Schweizer Nati are without defeat in their qualifying campaign, the two draws have been extremely frustrating. Switzerland were in winning positions on both occasions, before conceding 85th and 93rd minute equalisers and throwing away four vital points.
Denmark are also unbeaten in Group D, scoring 11 goals in two games before their goalless draw in Georgia. The Danes are the top scorers in the group with 15 goals, as Christian Eriksen and Christian Gytkjær lead the way with three goals apiece.
Saturday’s hosts also have a good defensive record, with back-to-back clean sheets in the last international break. Denmark have only conceded more than one goal on one occasion, which ironically came in the reverse fixture with Switzerland back in March.
Their last meeting was a thriller in Basel, as Denmark fought back to earn a 3-3 draw in March. Remo Freuler, Granit Xhaka and Breel Embolo seemed to secure the win for the Nati, before three goals in nine minutes from Mathias Jørgensen, Gytkjær and Henrik Dalsgaard earned the Danes a point at St. Jakob-Park.
The last encounter on Danish soil ended in victory for the hosts, back in a 2-1 win in September 1999. Kubilay Türkyilmaz cancelled out Allan Gert Nielsen’s opener, before Jon Dahl Tomasson’s late winner saw Denmark take all three points in Copenhagen.
Switzerland are just ahead in the number of wins, with three victories compared to Denmark’s two. It means half of their meetings have ended in stalemates, though there has been no absence of goals with 30 strikes between the two.
My Nati Lineup
Vladimir Petković will probably play a back three again, but once again I am opting for a back four in a 4-2-3-1. The majority of the recent goals Switzerland have conceded have been in the final 10 minutes, and that’s partly down to Petković choosing to rely on three central defenders. Against a dangerous Denmark side, it has to be a back four.
Nico Elvedi deserves the chance in a centre-back partnership, as he continues to impress for Borussia Mönchengladbach. Who plays at right-back will be the toughest decision for Petković, but I think it should be Kevin Mbabu. He has been brilliant in the last few games, though faces tough competition with the return of Lichtsteiner.
In attack, Breel Embolo should return to the right wing, as the best in-form option in Shaqiri’s absence. Leading the line will be Haris Seferović, in fine confidence after winning the Switzerland Player of the Year award on Monday.
Saturday’s clash in Copenhagen is absolutely crucial for Switzerland and Denmark, as qualification for EURO 2020 looms. Every point is vital, and in these situations where both sides are competing for a qualifying spot, three points will make all the difference.
Both sides are in strong form and Denmark will benefit from the home advantage, but Switzerland will be determined to leave Scandinavia with a win. It will be far from easy and will be an intense battle, but the Schweizer Nati should prevail in what promises to be an enthralling game.
My Prediction: Denmark 1-2 Switzerland