Group A: Assessing Switzerland’s EURO 2020 opponents

EURO 2020 draw
(Getty Images/UEFA)

Twelve days after sealing qualification, Switzerland learned their EURO 2020 opponents last Saturday.

Denmark’s draw with the Republic of Ireland had equal importance to their 6-1 win over Gibraltar, with the Danes’ dropped points seeing the Schweizer Nati top Group D. This in turn saw them go into Pot 2, avoiding big teams such as France and the Netherlands.

For the second consecutive European Championship, Vladimir Petković’s side were drawn into Group A. In their fifth finals appearance, Switzerland have been drawn with revitalised Italy, dark horses Turkey and previous semi-finalists Wales, in what looks to be a tough yet exciting group.

With preparation now starting for their opening match in six months, there’s a lot of work to do for Switzerland. Solidifying the squad, settling on tactics and analysing their opponents, the hard work continues for Petković’s side. With the Swiss’ EURO 2020 schedule already set, here’s a look at their three group stage opponents.


ITALY

Italy
(Azertag)

If there’s one team Switzerland wanted to avoid in the group stages, it was Italy. Their only other possible Pot 1 opponents were Spain, Germany and England, and while none of them would have been easy, the Swiss would stand more of a chance against them than the Italians.

The Azzurri had the joint-best qualifying record, winning 10 out of 10 games and breezing through Group J under the guidance of Roberto Mancini. They had the joint-fourth best defensive record in qualifying, scoring 37 goals in the process as they qualified with three games to go.

Italy are back onto the international stage roaring, following a tumultuous few years for the 2006 world champions. They missed out on the 2018 World Cup, failing to qualify for the tournament for the first time in 60 years as they lost the play-offs to eventual quarter-finalists Sweden.

Roberto Mancini
(Fox Sports)

The sacking of manager Gian Piero Ventura, resignation of Italian FA president Carlo Tavecchio and retirement of Giorgio Chiellini, Gianluigi Buffon and Daniele de Rossi followed, as Italy’s football empire fell. The peak of their demise came in August 2018, when they recorded their lowest ever world ranking of 21st place.

Italy’s rebuild began there, with the appointment of Mancini pivotal. The Italian mastermind started by handing debuts to a number of up-and-coming starlets, with youth prospects Nicolò Barella and Nicolò Zaniolo flourishing for the national team.

In a year and-a-half at the helm, Mancini has revitalised Italy with a fresh approach, exciting talent and intelligent tactics, as the Azzurri have passed their first test in qualifying for EURO 2020. They will provide the toughest test for Switzerland, as their meeting in Rome looks set to be a clash fit for the Roman Gods.

Italy vs Switzerland

Wednesday 17th June 2020

Stadio Olimpico, Rome


TURKEY

Turkey
(Veli Gürgah/Anadolu Agency)

Turkey are not to be underestimated next summer, qualifying in fine style from Group H. The Crescent-Stars finished second in the group, taking four points off group winners and world champions France. Manager Şenol Güneş is another man who has revolutionised his national team, taking over at the start of 2019.

Since Güneş’ arrival, Turkey have become a formidable force in Europe. They finished the calendar year with a place at EURO 2020 and just one defeat, winning nine of their 12 games. They have risen to 29th in the world thanks to their fine form in 2019, their highest position for three years.

This will be the Turks’ fifth European Championship appearance – the same as Switzerland – and they’ll be looking to better their result 12 years ago when the tournament was held in Austria and Switzerland. Turkey reached the semi-finals in the 2008 tournament, beating the Swiss 2-1 en route to the final four.

SUI-TUR
(Dusan Vranic/AP Photo)

Their last appearance during EURO 2016 ended in far less emphatic fashion, with Turkey failing to progress past the group stages. This time out they will feel much more at home, with two of their games just a few hours away in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Turkey have a wealth of deadly attacking players, including the likes of Burak Yılmaz, Cenk Tosun and Hakan Çalhanoğlu. Their threat to a vulnerable Swiss defence will be an intriguing combination to see, spurred on by their fantastic noisy fans in what may be a decisive meeting on matchday three.

Switzerland vs Turkey

Sunday 21st June 2020

Olympic Stadium, Baku


WALES

Wales
(Sky Sports)

Every Group A teams is returning to the European Championship, having appeared at EURO 2016. Out of those four nations, it is Wales who had the best tournament run, famously reaching the semi-finals in what was their first ever finals appearance. Now the Dragons are back for more, and face three huge tests across Europe.

Welsh legend Ryan Giggs has been at the helm, and is largely to thank for Wales’ qualification for EURO 2020. However it was far from easy, as they needed their 2-0 win over Hungary on the final matchday to seal qualification behind World Cup finalists Croatia.

Although Wales have the lowest points tally, least goals scored and joint-most goals conceded out of their Group A opponents in qualifying, they are not to be underestimated. Spearheaded by Real Madrid star Gareth Bale and Juventus maestro Aaron Ramsey, Giggs has a very strong side at his disposal going into next summer’s tournament.

getttyyyy
(Getty Images)

The fight and belief shown three years ago saw them reach the final four in a momentous occasion for Welsh football, and the Dragons will be just as determined to equal – if not better – that run in France. They still have a strong squad and are under sound leadership, coming into what looks to be a very open group.

With Wales and Switzerland facing off in the second game of the tournament, it will be huge in deciding who qualifies for the knockout stages. It is a game that will set the tone in Group A and show who is the best of the rest, and with six months to go the work starts now towards 13th June.

Wales vs Switzerland

Saturday 13th June 2020

Olympic Stadium, Baku

Baku Olympic Stadium
(Wikipedia)

READ MORE

Read more of my Switzerland national team articles here

Gibraltar 1-6 Switzerland: Schweizer Nati book EURO 2020 berth in style

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