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Switzerland Euro 2020 preview - prediction, fixtures, squad, star player

:Headline: Switzerland Euro 2020 preview - prediction, fixtures, squad, star player:
Ahead of Euro 2020, Sports Mole assesses the chances of a Switzerland side looking to advance past the round of 16 in this tournament for the first time.
Sports Mole

Switzerland will be looking to advance past the group stage of a European Championship for just the second time in their history when they take to the field for this summer's tournament.

A-Team qualified for their first finals in 1996, when they were eliminated in the group stages, before suffering the same fate in both 2004 and 2008.

Switzerland did not qualify for the tournament in either 2000 or 2012, but they were present in the 2016 edition and managed to advance to the round of 16, ultimately losing to Poland on penalties.

Vladimir Petkovic's side are not being tipped as potential winners, but the open nature of this summer's competition means that a spot in the very latter stages could be attainable.

Here, Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at Switzerland ahead of Euro 2020.


GROUP

Group A is fascinating, with Switzerland being joined by Italy, Turkey and Wales; on paper, it is an incredibly open section, with all four teams believing that they are capable of advancing to the knockout round.

Switzerland will be looking to make a strong start when they open their tournament against Wales on June 12, as their toughest match of the section, in theory at least, comes against Italy in Rome on June 16.

A-Team will then finish their group-stage campaign against a talented Turkey outfit on June 20, and this is arguably one of the most interesting sections considering the strength of the four sides.

SWITZERLAND FIXTURES

June 12: Wales vs. Switzerland (2pm, Baku Olympic Stadium, Baku)
June 16: Italy vs. Switzerland (8pm, Stadio Olimpico, Rome)
June 20: Switzerland vs. Turkey (5pm, Baku Olympic Stadium, Baku)


HOW THEY QUALIFIED

Switzerland impressed during qualification for Euro 2020, finishing top of Group D, having picked up 17 points from their eight matches, which left them one point clear of Denmark in second.

Petkovic's side won five, drew two and lost one of their eight fixtures, scoring 19 times and conceding six; they drew two of their first three in the section and suffered a 1-0 defeat to Denmark in October 2019.

However, a strong finish to the group allowed them to rise to the summit, beating the Republic of Ireland, Georgia and Gibraltar in relatively routine fashion.

First position in the section was secured on the final matchday, as they thumped Gibraltar 6-1, and a total of 19 points proved to be their joint-second best performance in a Euro qualifying campaign.


RECENT FORM

Switzerland will enter this summer's European Championships off the back of six straight victories, including wins in their last three friendlies with Finland, United States and Liechtenstein.

Petkovic's side have made a strong start to their 2022 World Cup qualification campaign, beating Bulgaria and Lithuania in back-to-back fixtures to sit second in Group C behind Italy.

Switzerland then recorded a 3-2 win over Finland in a friendly at the end of March before overcoming the United States on May 30 courtesy of goals from Ricardo Rodriguez and Steven Zuber.

A-Team then put seven unanswered goals past Liechtenstein on June 3, with Mario Gavranovic scoring a hat-trick during an excellent performance from the home side in St. Gallen.


SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Yvon Mvogo (PSV Eindhoven), Jonas Omlin (Montpellier), Yann Sommer (Borussia Monchengladbach)

Defenders: Manuel Akanji (Borussia Dortmund), Loris Benito (Bordeaux), Eray Comert (Basel), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Monchengladbach), Jordan Lotomba (Nice), Kevin Mbabu (Wolfsburg), Becir Omeragic (Zurich), Ricardo Rodriguez (Torino), Fabian Schar (Newcastle United), Silvan Widmer (Basel)

Midfielders: Christian Fassnacht (Young Boys), Edimilson Fernandes (Mainz), Remo Freuler (Atalanta BC), Xherdan Shaqiri (Liverpool), Djibril Sow (Eintracht Frankfurt), Ruben Vargas (Augsburg), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Denis Zakaria (Borussia Monchengladbach), Steven Zuber (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Forwards: Breel Embolo (Borussia Monchengladbach), Mario Gavranovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Admir Mehmedi (Wolfsburg), Haris Seferovic (Benfica)


STAR PLAYER - Granit Xhaka

The Switzerland squad is full of talent and recognisable names, with Liverpool's Xherdan Shaqiri, Atalanta's Remo Freuler, Borussia Monchengladbach's Breel Embolo and Yann Sommer, and Dortmund's Manuel Akanji all important players for the national team heading into Euro 2020.

However, Granit Xhaka stands out for the Swiss, with the Arsenal midfielder set to wear the captain's armband.

The midfielder has scored 12 times in 94 caps for Switzerland and is often the player that his teammates look to for inspiration, potentially during tough periods of matches.

The 28-year-old will enter the tournament off the back of a busy season for Arsenal, making 45 appearances in all competitions, including 31 in the Premier League, but he had an indifferent campaign in terms of performances.

Being at the centre of the side, Xhaka will play a vital role for A-Team, who reached the round of 16 at the 2018 World Cup and certainly appear to be heading in the right direction as a team.


MANAGER - Vladimir Petkovic

Petkovic has been in charge of Switzerland since 2014 and guided the nation to the round of 16 at both Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, meaning that he has strong tournament experience.

The 57-year-old won the Coppa Italia at Lazio in 2013, while he has also previously been at the helm of Sion and Young Boys at club level.

Petkovic has taken charge of 73 matches with A-Team and has a win record of almost 55%, suffering just 18 defeats, which is impressive considering their standing in world football.

The fact that the former midfielder has led the nation through the group stages of a major tournament on two previous occasions should stand him in good stead entering Euro 2020, while Switzerland also impressed in the inaugural UEFA Nations League under their current boss, finishing fourth.


EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP RECORD

Best finish: Round of 16 (2016)

Switzerland's European Championship record is fairly underwhelming, with the national team competing in just four previous finals, failing to advance through the group stage on three occasions.

A-Team failed to win a match in the 1996 and 2004 editions of the tournament before also going out in the group stages in 2008 despite picking up one victory from three fixtures.

Switzerland were present in the round of 16 at Euro 2016, which is their best performance in the competition.

Having finished second in Group A behind France, Petkovic's side faced Poland in the first knockout round, and the two teams could not be separated over the course of 120 minutes - playing out a 1-1 draw - but Poland ran out 5-4 winners in the shootout, with Xhaka missing from the spot.


PREDICTION

We are backing Switzerland to finish second in Group A behind Italy, which could potentially see them take on Denmark in the round of 16 depending on what occurs in Group B.

A clash between Switzerland and Denmark should, in theory, be a close affair, but we are expecting Petkovic's side to be eliminated in the first knockout round for the second European Championship in succession.

VERDICT: Round of 16 body check tags ::

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