Spain come here on the back of what many will feel was the game of the tournament so far. With 5 minutes of normal time left they looked to be on their way to a 3-1 victory, but an 85th minute strike from Mislav Orsic, was followed up by a 92nd minute equaliser from Mario Pasalic, and Spain were taken into extra time. Two goals in the first half of extra time from Alvaro Morata and Mikel Oyarzabal effectively ended the tie as a contest and Spain won 5-3. Switzerland caused the biggest shock of the tournament so far in the last round as they dumped out World Champions France. Switzerland went 1-0 up courtesy of a first half header from Haris Seferovic, but they looked to have fluffed their lines when they had a disastrous 5 minute speel which saw them be awarded a penalty, which Ricardo Rodriguez missed, before Karim Benzema scored 2 goals in 2 minutes to put the French side 2-1 up. This was followed by the a Paul Pogba wonder strike which put France 3-1 up and seemingly on their way to the quarter finals. However, just as Croatia did to Spain, Switzerland had other ideas and another goal from Hamis Seferovic on 81 minutes set up a grand stand finish, with Mario Gavranovic scoring the equaliser in the 90th minute, to send the game into extra time. France had chances in extra time but couldn’t convert with the game going to penalties. Switzerland were perfect from the spot scoring all 5, and up stepped Kylian Mbappe who had to score, but saw his penalty saved by Yann Sommer, sparking great celebrations from Switzerland and misery for France.
The bookmakers (All prices Skybet) have Spain as the strong 1/3 favourites to make the semi finals, with Switzerland at 9/4. The Spaniards are 4/6 to win in normal time, whilst Switzerland are 17/4 to spring another surprise in 90 minutes, and extra time to be needed is 11/4.
In their 4 games played at this years tournament, Switzerland have scored 7 goals, conceded 8, had 59 shots with 20 on target, they have had an average possession of 53%, have been given 9 yellow cards, no red cards and taken 27 corners.
Spain in their 4 games at Euro 2020 have scored 11 goals, conceded 4, had 71 shots with 29 on target, have had an average possession of 74.25%, have been given 4 yellow cards, no red cards and taken 28 corners.
The referee for this game is Michael Oliver (England), who this season has been in charge of 38 games, handing out 118 yellow cards and 4 red cards, for an average of 3.11 yellow cards per game and 0.11 red cards per game. In his career to date he has refereed 341 games, awarding 1123 yellow cards and 45 red cards, an average of 3.29 yellow cards per game and 0.13 red cards per game
Whatever happens from now on this will be a memorable tournament for Switzerland and their fans, however that’s not the case for Spain, who should they lose this game will surely be greeted with some long faces on their arrival home. I feel this game is going to be quite different to the France game for Switzerland. That game almost became a basketball type end to end game as that seemed to be what both teams were quite happy with, and that is shown in the possession stats with Switzerland having 45% of the ball against France. I don’t think they are going to see as much of the ball in this game. All tournament Spain have been hoarding possession, and that is reflected in their average possession for the tournament which is at 74.25%. I can see Switzerland having to sit in and be compact for long periods of the game, having to life off scraps which the Spanish allow them to have. This asks an entirely different question of Switzerland to what the France game did.
The game against France became a cauldron of intensity and emotion, that Switzerland’s big players like Shaqiri and Xhaka feed off, this game promises to be much more methodical and slow, and whilst the Swiss legs will probably be thankful for that, it’s going to be a test of their mental concentration, which is a whole different ball game. Xhaka will be a big miss in the middle of the park, but I do feel this game was less suited to him anyway, as he is prone to a rush of blood or error, and with this game being a different type of test, I don’t feel he would have been as influential as he was against France, but never the less Switzerland will wish he was playing, and the fact that both of his yellow cards at the tournament have come for dissent will be even more frustrating. Spain were hardly an impressive attacking threat to start the tournament, but they are getting into their stride now, and one mistake from Switzerland could so easily be punished. The shining light for this Swiss team is that when they played Italy earlier in the group stage, they actually managed to have more possession than Italy, though not by much with 51%, so they will be hopeful they can get their hands on the ball for long enough periods to have an impact in an attacking sense. The worrying thing for Switzerland is that they lost that game to Italy 3-0, and this was their second game of the tournament when they had fresh legs. I completely understand all games of football are different, but If Switzerland lose 3-0 to Italy when they have more possession than the Italians and Switzerland can only register 1 shot on target, can they really contain a Spain side this late in the tournament when they just played a gruelling 120 minutes against The World Champions, when that Spain side have scored 10 goals in their last 2 games and are likely to have at least 65/70% possession in this game? personally I don’t think so. Despite Spain also going to extra time against Croatia, they have more depth in quality in their squad and even if Switzerland can keep it tight for an hour or so, I feel it’s only a matter of time before their defence is breached. I would not be surprised for this to turn into a full on siege, with Spain having 75% possession as they keep Switzerland camped in their own half for the majority of the game, and camped in their own box for long periods. I see Spain probing and trying to pick through a Switzerland defence who will be trying hard and throwing their bodies in the way of shots and crosses leading to a high corner count for Spain, and when Spain score 1, I feel that could spell real trouble for Switzerland who whilst they won’t lack heart, will find fatigue getting the better of them as Spain start to pull away late in the game
The best bets in this game are (All prices taken from Skybet)
Spain to score 2+ goals, 5+ Spain corners and 20+ Switzerland booking points – 5/2
10+ Spain corners – 6/1
Spain to win both halves – 4/1