The second match of the UEFA EURO 2020 will see Wales go up against Switzerland, as both teams look to finish 2nd place in Group A of the tournament after Italy considered to be heavy favourites to finish top of the group.
It is also worth noting that this is the first time the two teams are meeting each in a major tournament (World Cup + European Championships), thus, it is going to be interesting to see who comes out on top on Friday afternoon.
Will Wales capitulate or go deep into the tournament again?
Your first match in any tournament is the most crucial one as it sets a pattern for the rest of the tournament, even more so in a knockout tournament. Wales build on success and they did so successfully in 2016, but momentum is key for the Welsh. Gareth Bale was possibly the third-best player in the world at the time while players like Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies, and Ashley Williams were playing their best football.
Things are a little different this time around, but Wales do, however, have more quality this year. Harry Wilson and Kieffer Moore are brilliant options going forward, while Daniel James has also become a huge threat on the wings for the Welsh. However, the main man will be Gareth Bale, who Wales will be counting on to provide moments of brilliance in the more important games. It will also be interesting to see whether caretaker manager Robert Page has the bravado to select Ethan Ampadu in midfield or if he goes with the more trusted options of Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey in midfield.
Joe Rodon has established himself as a starter at the back for Wales, while Ben Davies has enough experience to guide that backline. Danny Ward could replace Wayne Hennessey in goal, however, both goalkeepers are good options. Wales’ 3-4-3 formation guarantees more protection to their backline while it also helps them to counter the opposition on the break, something Daniel James and Gareth Bale will want to do given their ability to run past defenders with ease. Robert Page could become something of a cult hero should he manage to guide his nation out of this group and deep into this tournament, however, they are going to have to work hard for it because success does not come easy at the Euros.
A victory essential in the first game for the Swiss:
While it is crucial to get going from the start itself, the Swiss need to understand that there are only three games in the group and their 2nd game is against Italy, who are favorites to top the group. Thus, a loss against Wales could make their game against Italy a do or die which puts all the more pressure on the Wales game.
While Vladimir Petkovic will go with an experienced starting lineup, he needs his top players to step during the group, with Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka, and Fabian Schar forming the core group of the team. However, Schar’s place in the team could be doubtful should Petkovic go with Steven Zuber in the wing-back role and Ricardo Rodriguez as the left-sided centre-back. However, both ways facilitate the way the Swiss approach the game, and a lot of hopes will be pinned on striker Haris Seferovic who will have to score the important goals.
While Remo Freuler is set to start alongside Granit Xhaka, Petkovic could also be more resolute defensively and appoint Denis Zakaria in a midfield pivot. Additionally, Breel Embolo should start against Wales but Mario Gavranovic has made a good case for himself to start the first game for the Swiss.
Switzerland need to manage the game and get the victory because if they do end up losing the game, their tournament could be over as Italy have the capability to demolish the Swiss, and Vladimir Petkovic needs to be smart about his team selection for the game against Wales.
Switzerland XI: Yann Sommer; Nico Elvedi, Manuel Akanji, Fabian Schar; Kevin Mbabu, Granit Xhaka, Denis Zakaria, Ricardo Rodriguez; Xherdan Shaqiri; Haris Seferovic, Breel Embolo.
Wales XI: Wayne Hennessey; Chris Mepham, Joe Rodon, Ben Davies; Neco Williams, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen, Connor Roberts; Kieffer Moore, Daniel James, Gareth Bale.