Switzerland will look to bounce back in impressive fashion on Sunday, as they host Germany in Basel.
The Schweizer Nati were beaten in their first game for almost a year, succumbing to defeat in Ukraine. Goals from Premier League pair Andriy Yarmolenko and Oleksandr Zinchenko handed the hosts a 2-1 victory, as the Swiss got off to the worst possible start in the Nations League.
Their opponents, Germany, will also feel hard done by following their opening game. Leading 1-0 going into stoppage time, Spain scored a 97th minute equaliser to snatch the win from Die Mannschaft, ensuring that they were denied all three points in Stuttgart.
In an extremely competitive group, both teams will be determined to pick up their first win of the Nations League campaign. Will the Swiss be able to recover with a momentous victory, or will Joachim Löw’s men complete a standard German rout?
|Date||Sunday 6th September 2020|
|Time||20:45 local time (19:45 UK)|
|Venue||St. Jakob-Park, Basel|
|Where to Watch||SRF Zwei (SUI), Sky Sports Football (UK)|
Breel Embolo hurt his shoulder during Switzerland’s outing in Lviv, but seemed fine as he completed the rest of the game. The Borussia Mönchengladbach forward should be available to start on Sunday, after an impressive performance on the right flank.
Otherwise, Switzerland are without the same players who failed to make Vladimir Petkovic’s original 23-man squad. Six players miss out through injury, as Xherdan Shaqiri, Fabian Schär, Denis Zakaria, Remo Freuler, Admir Mehmedi and Cedric Itten are all sidelined.
The big news for Germany is that Kai Havertz left the team hotel on Friday, as he looks even closer to sealing a move to Chelsea. The 21-year-old starlet is on the verge of making a long-awaited switch to Stamford Bridge, which could be officially announced by the end of the week.
There are a number of key Bayern Munich absentees from the squad due to their late involvement in the Champions League, as Die Roten marched on to their sixth European title. It means that captain Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka and Serge Gnabry are among those left out, as well as Marc-André ter Stegen and Nico Schulz.
Switzerland’s loss to Ukraine was a first defeat in four games, following three wins on the bounce at the end of 2019. Nonetheless, it means that the Nati have won just once away from home in their last six outings, which includes the Nations League Finals results to Portugal and England.
While away form has cost Petković, the Swiss can be a formidable force on home soil. Switzerland are unbeaten in their last 16 competitive games at home, a remarkable run stretching all the way back to November 2014. With Belgium and Portugal among those to have been beaten, there is every chance that Germany could be added to that list.
Germany are now unbeaten in six games, though should have made it four consecutive wins were it not for the late Spanish equaliser. The Germans have lost one of their previous nine competitive fixtures, which was a 4-2 defeat to the Netherlands in the same competition last September.
Die Mannschaft are fortunate to be back in League A, as the competition reform saw their relegation blushes from the previous edition spared. They will be eager to improve their Nations League track record, pushing for the top spot and a place in next year’s finals.
The last meeting between Switzerland and Germany was an enticing clash, albeit a friendly. The Swiss prevailed 5-3 back in May 2012, thanks to an Eren Derdiyok hat-trick and goals from Stephan Lichtsteiner and Admir Mehmedi. Only Granit Xhaka remains from that team eight years on, when he will captain the Nati in his home town.
In 51 previous encounters, Switzerland have won just nine of them, while Germany have a 70% win rate against their European neighbours. This will be their first competitive meeting of the century, as Petković looks to make it double digits with the Schweizer Nati’s 10th victory over the Germans.
My Nati lineup
It is hard to understand why Petković still went for a back three against Ukraine, as it remains clear that Switzerland must play a back four.
Despite an underwhelming performance at the back, the defensive core should remain the same – what should be changed is its shape. Ricardo Rodríguez must revert to a left-back, even if it pulls Kevin Mbabu back to commit more to his defensive duties. Manuel Akanji and Nico Elvedi worked well together, so they will partner up again.
Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Djibril Sow came in on Thursday and had an excellent game, so deserves to remain alongside Granit Xhaka in midfield. Playing a midfield three would also pull Breel Embolo into the attacking midfield role, but he will be equally capable of playing and performing there against Germany.
Steven Zuber was underwhelming on the left flank, so Renato Steffen should take his place. The Wolfsburg winger replaced him at half-time in Lviv and was decent, deservedly earning his spot in the starting eleven in Basel.
Switzerland have a huge task on their hands, needing a much-improved display if they want to slay the 2014 world champions. Germany remain a formidable force, but they are far from the flawless Mannschaft who ruled the world eight years ago. Their weaknesses were exposed against Spain, and they are a team who the Swiss can beat on their day.
Both nations are vying for a win, and frankly they both need all three points ahead of a tough few months. Germany will be the favourites but the Nati must never be doubted, and with the two going head to head at St. Jakob-Park, the Swiss would be content with a hard-fought point.
My prediction: Switzerland 1-1 Germany
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