Two trendy darkhorse selections will kick things off Saturday morning in Group A action of the European 2020 Championships, as Gareth Bale and Wales take on Switzerland in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Just five years after an impressive run from Wales to the Euro semi-finals back in 2016, much of this same core remains and are eager for one last chance at international glory. Bale will be supported by the likes of Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey, but injuries and veteran fatigue have clearly slowed the top members of this group. Wales have endured a tumultuous road to preparing for this competition, having to dismiss their permanent manager in Ryan Giggs with pending legal issues, while recent results to both France and Albania left onlookers puzzled by their struggles.
Switzerland are on the opposite end of the form spectrum, having won six straight contests headed into their match vs. Wales. Though they’ve yet to have a big breakthrough on the international stage, a new and promising generation of footballers offers the Swiss some hope. Vladimir Petkovic’s side have prioritized advancing into the knockout round, but in a tough Group A – securing a positive result in their first group match is simply crucial.
With four third-place teams moving on from the group stages, these clashes featuring evenly-matched teams are all the more important. While it is just the opening game, neither side will want to see a defeat, especially with tougher foes like Italy and Turkey waiting. It should certainly make for an intense affair in Baku. For more news, lineups, and tactical analysis, continue on beneath the posted odds for our betting breakdown for this Group A encounter.
Wales vs. Switzerland Betting Odds:
Over 2 (+110)
Under 2 (-130)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Wales vs. Switzerland Pick:
While Wales might feature some of the bigger names and former world-class talents, they really are a shell of that 2016 side. Though they’ve introduced some youth and fresher pieces, if recent matches are any indication – this is a side that could struggle for goals. Getting shutout by Albania isn’t a good sign just weeks before Euro 2020.
The Swiss will be primed and ready for a pesky Welsh side however, and look for Petkovic to line-up his squad in an intriguing 3-4-1-2 formation. Granit Xhaka will remain the engine in midfield, while up top Xherdan Shaqiri will play just behind the strikers, providing excellent pace, vision, and passing. Shaqiri didn’t get that much playing time at Liverpool this past season, but remains a lethal creator and will be hugely influential to the Swiss.
At striker, look for the Swiss to again rely on Breel Embolo and Haris Seferovic. That duo have paired before, and despite boasting potential and looking good on paper, the goals haven’t come when the lights have shone the brightest. If the Swiss are going to advance, they’ll need to score goals against weaker opposition, relieving some of the pressure of Shaqiri and Xhaka. In the past, this has been too easy of a squad to shut down, and their depth options will need to prove their worth against a weakened Welsh back-line.
One unfortunate bit of news is the status of Aaron Ramsey. He’s battled injuries over the past year, and is unlikely to be in proper game shape. When he’s on, he could be a difference maker for a squad that will need to generate offense, but as of now it seems unlikely he will start vs. the Swiss.
Wales are a tough and pesky side, with some sneaky good pieces that could mesh. Though we haven’t seen it just yet, they do have the potential for goals given their speed and quick-strike ability. That said, look for Wales to begin the tournament doing what they’re good at – defending. Structure and shape will keep other teams out, and with the Swiss lacking depth at skill positions, and creativity outside of Shaqiri, a low-scoring draw seems to be the best fit for these sides on Saturday morning.