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Euro 2020: Can Wales Hold the Swiss?


Euro 2020: Can Wales Hold the Swiss?

Wales vs Switzerland

Switzerland and Wales open their campaign at the Baku Stadium on Saturday afternoon as Euro 2020 swings into action.

This is a game neither team wants to lose. In such a competitive group there is always a sigh of relief when the first point goes on the board and that will apply particularly to Wales, who start this journey as underdogs.

Interim coach Robert Page has a gem in his team in Gareth Bale, and if he shines then who knows? But an opening clash with Vladimir Petkovic’s Switzerland will be no walk in the park.

Ranked 13th in the world, the Rossocrociati are one of the toughest nuts to crack, and they come into the game in spectacular form. Wales have the ability to pick up impressive results but I suspect Page would take a point right now.

Talking Points

Qualification from Group A is wide open

The tournament opens on Friday night when Italy play Turkey in the curtain raiser at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, where Roberto Mancini’s team will be expected to start with a victory.

Having won all 10 in qualifying, scoring 37 goals in the process, the Euro 2020 betting odds make the Azzurri hot favourite to win Group A, at odds of 1.48, but there isn’t much separating the other three.

Italy could well win all three matches and that would mean a scramble for qualification, with Switzerland at odds of 1.55 to make the top two, Turkey at 1.60 and Wales at 1.75, while the Dragons are favourites to finish bottom at a price of 2.17.

And that makes a solid start to the campaign all the more crucial.

Switzerland’s Premier class

Petkovic must be pleased by the way his team has approached this competition. In their final warm-up game, they beat Lichtenstein 7-0 as Dinamo Zagreb striker Mario Gavranovic helped himself to a hat-trick, and that followed an impressive 2-1 victory over a dangerous USA.

The Swiss are the only team in Group A yet to reach the semi-finals of the Euros (Italy are the only winners), and they will be determined to improve on their best-ever finish of Round of 16.

The Premier League trio of Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabian Schar, along with Borussia Monchengladbach keeper Yann Sommer, have been mainstays of Switzerland’s climb up the rankings, and they will be crucial to their nation’s success over the next month.

In the climax to the Premier League, none of the Swiss players had a particularly spectacular finish to the season. While Liverpool made a late run to reach the top four Shaqiri struggled for game time, Xhaka led Arsenal to a disappointing eight position, and having flirted with relegation, Schar’s Newcastle finished comfortably in 12th.

Monchengladbach ended up eighth in the Bundesliga, so every one of these big players has something to prove. Petkovic has some young stars emerging from Die Fohlen who are sure to feature; 24-year-olds Denis Zakaria and Breel Embolo have both impressed in their early international careers.

Can Bale lift Wales once more?  

Wales finished their warm-up for the tournament with a 0-0 draw against Albania, and last week they pitted their wits against tournament favourites France, suffering a 3-0 defeat.

But Page has shown he can lift the Dragons to greater heights. Neither a  1-0 victory over Mexico in March nor a 1-0 win over Czech Republic in the World Cup qualifier can be sniffed at, but with Italy and Turkey to come, this is a tough group for Wales and they need a good start.

Gareth Bale has odds of 61.00 to be the Player of the Tournament, and while he has lost some of his influence over recent years, his passion for Wales is undoubted. If he can replicate the form he showed when he burst onto the international scene, the Dragons can breathe fire once again.

The 31-year-old Real Madrid player inspired Wales to a semi-final in their first appearance at the Euros in 2016, and he will hope to be in the Euro 2020 news for longer than the two weeks most pundits expect.

History

In the four previous meetings Switzerland have fared the better of the two teams, with three wins to Wales’ one, but the Dragons win was the most recent game, a 2-0 victory in the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

Switzerland come into the match on a six-match winning streak while Wales have won three of the last six, drawing one and losing two.

Betting Tip

1X2 Switzerland @ 2.20

The draw at 3.05 and Wales at 3.35 are both well in play, but the Swiss have greater strength in depth and should have the edge.

We’re expecting a tight game, with over 2.00 goals priced at 2.09, a 1-0 win for Switzerland is the most likely result at SBOTOP odds of 5.00.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

 

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