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Euro 2016 Round of 16: Switzerland vs Poland
Switzerland and Poland square off in the first Euro 2016 round of 16 clash this Saturday afternoon.
Switzerland managed to spasmodically hustle their way out of a particularly weak Group A. They have yet to look the finished article and know that a vastly improved performance will be necessary to overcome Adam Nawalka’s Poland.
The Polish side managed to finish with a commendable seven points and only finished behind Germany on goal difference. This without their talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski coming to the party as of yet.
Both sides have surpassed their previous best showings at a Euros - ironically enough both finishing second in their respective groups in an expanded edition aimed at possibly giving the likes of the Swiss and Polish a greater chance of qualification.
Switzerland v Poland | Saturday 25 June | Stade Geoffroy-Guichard | 15:00
To Win (90 Mins)Switzerland 21/10 | Draw 18/10 | Poland 16/10
Switzerland 1/1 | Poland 15/20
Vladimir Petkovic’s Swiss side were far from convincing in the group stages. They were extremely fortunate to scrape past Albania in the first match despite having a one-man advantage.
I have been somewhat disappointed by the level of influence that star man Sheqiri has had over proceedings. Far from the virtuosic performances seen by the likes of Bale and Hamsik, the left-sided midfielder has been left largely alienated and caught far too frequently in his own half.
Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka has been far more impressive while Lichtsteiner continues to embody the spirit needed for the side to advance.
I expect Petkovic will continue to show faith in young striker Breel Embolo - linked with a potential move to Premier League sides Chelsea and Manchester United. This will likely see the more experienced Haris Seferovic start on the bench. Admir Mehmedi is expected to be fit despite some concerns that the industrious midfielder may not feature.
The likes of Behrami and Mehmedi are going to have to do a little more going forward in order for Sheqiri and Embolo to have any chance of utilising their creative abilities.
Poland - though earning seven points in their group - did it the hard way with two tight 1-0 victories and a gruelling 0-0 draw with arch-rivals Germany. They will take solace in knowing that they managed to achieve this landmarks sans Robert Lewandowski’s general disregard for opposition defenses. Additionally, Nawalka’s side managed to emerge from a far more dangerous group than the Swiss and will probably feel slightly more battle hardened for it.
Bartosz Kaputska is suspended for the match, which will likely see Grosicki come in to shore up the midfield. Wojciech Szczesny also remains sidelined due to a thigh injury, seeing fellow former Gunner Lukasz Fabianski continue between the sticks.
Poland will be hoping that that the athleticism of Milik and Blaszczkowski will create some space for Lewandowski. They also have the weight of history on their side as they have won three of the last four encounters between the two outfits. Their backline has yet to be penetrated and this Swiss side just doesn’t look dangerous enough to threaten that stat.
Verdict: Poland (90 Mins) 16/10
I expect Poland’s traditionally frugal defensive system to remain impenetrable while Lewandowski finally announces his arrival at Europe’s showpiece tournament.