The Swiss stunned France while Spain beat Croatia in dramatic fashion to set up the first clash for the quarter-finals. Both teams saw their first knockout fixture locked at 3-3 at 90 minutes, but only the Spanish were able to put their game to bed over extra-time.
Individual brilliance has not been the decider for these nations as cohesion is at the forefront of their performances. How will they match up, and what will be the deciding factor? Let’s dive deeper into the inner workings of these camps.
Euro 2020 – Quarter-final
Friday 2 July
To Win (90 min)
A tough group run saw Switzerland as one of the best third finishers, earning them a clash against World Champions France, which I’m sure left fans with the image of players packing their bags. However, dominance versus Wales, a lesson against Italy, and a result to put them through the group stages over Turkey gave them confidence.
Vladimir Petkovic paid the price for negative football in their match against Italy. The tactics were what most can expect when coming up against the bigger, more skilled nation, playing rigid defensive lines and trying to capitalize on an opposition error or trying to pinpoint the perfect counterattack. However, I have to take my hat off to Petkovic for backing his team’s strengths and personnel when they came up against the French.
The personnel in the Swiss camp have come to the party with their dancing shoes over the last two fixtures. Granit Xhaka has not missed a competitive match in the last five years, and his quality has not gone unnoticed with a Star of the Match performance in his last outing. The little man Xherdan Shaqiri has stepped up on the big stage pulling strings behind two strikers in Breel Embolo and Haris Seferovic, whose style of plays complement one another quite perfectly.
Switzerland’s first quarter-final in a major tournament in 67 years is an accomplishment on its own and continuing the success will be prevalent in the squad.
Spain have finally popped the cork on champagne football with an impressive five goals back-to-back to be the first-ever nation to do so at the European Championships – albeit that their five-goal haul against Crotia needed extra time. The Spanish are now favourite to win the Euros.
Luis Enrique’s boys have been scrutinized by the media, as well as even one of my colleagues in his previews as the worst Spanish team to take the field, but have since silenced the critics. Enrique has not changed the style of play we have come to know and love over the years, and his passion for the squad rubs off on the players in an evident manner.
There have been three mainstays in La Furia Roja: Aymeric Laporte, goalkeeper Unai Simon and the youngest player to grace the national squad at the Euros, Pedri. Laporte has shown his quality with his accuracy in penetrative passing throughout the fixtures.
Despite Simon’s absolute howler to let the first goal in against Croatia, he went on to save his nation on numerous occasions in the same match. I do not have enough space to show the appreciation I have for this youngster, Pedri, with his work rate through the roof and quality in finding that pass before the assist will be key in securing another victory for Spain.
Verdict: Spain Win 13/20
Switzerland found themselves in possession of the ball quite often against France and were able to play to their strengths, but when they did not have the ball against Italy, the Swiss struggled immensely, creating very few opportunities.
The road to success is predictable and the possession game of Spain will surely be the undoing of Switzerland, but make no mistake of it, it will be a fight.