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World Cup Qualifiers: Switzerland vs Italy Preview

The newly crowned European champions are back in action once again during the World Cup qualifiers. Italy had a dream Euro 2020 campaign and they went on to lift the second European championship in their prestigious history without losing a single match.

Italy looked like one of the most cohesive sides in the entire tournament. They took care of Spain in the semi-finals, although the thrilling encounter required penalties to separate the two sides. The final, a duller affair, also went the same route. Italy beat England on penalties to be crowned kings of the continent a few weeks ago.

Although Switzerland did make it out of their group at Euro 2020, they couldn’t progress far. In fact, Switzerland’s run came to a grinding halt against Italy’s semi-final opponents Spain. The match between the two sides ended at 1-1 and the Swiss had Remo Freuler sent off in the 77th minute. Switzerland and Spain couldn’t take charge of the tie in extra-time but La Roja went on to beat their opponents on penalties.

Italy and Switzerland were also in the same group at Euro 2020 (Group A). They met only a few weeks ago and on that particular occasion, Italy secured a comfortable 3-0 win with goals from Manuel Locatelli and Ciro Immobile. Roberto Mancini’s side will be hopeful of a similar result this time around as well.

Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at both sides:

 

SWITZERLAND’S WORLD CUP QUALIFYING CAMPAIGN SO FAR

Switzerland are the only credible rivals to challenge Italy in Group C of the European World Cup Qualifiers. After two matches so far, Switzerland haven’t dropped a point and have six points to their name. Although they trail Italy at the top by four points, Switzerland also have two games in hand.

Switzerland took to the football field for the first time since being cruelly knocked out by Spain in a penalty shootout at Euro 2020 against Greece and came out on top. They ended Greece’s streak of 14 consecutive unbeaten games and won the friendly match by a 2-1 margin.

Steven Zuber gave his side the lead pretty early on in the game. Although Greece drew parity through Pavlidis in the 34th minute of the match, Switzerland had the final laugh in the second-half. Ruben Vargas put them ahead once again in the 51st minute and the match ended with the scoreline being 2-1.

Prior to their Euro 2020 campaign, Switzerland had beaten Bulgaria and Lithuania in their first two World Cup Qualifiers.

 

PREDICTED LINEUPS AND TACTICS AGAINST ITALY

The ‘Alpine Messi’ Xherdan Shaqiri is out injured and Switzerland will also miss their captain Granit Xhaka who missed the friendly against Greece after testing positive for COVID-19 and he’s in isolation at the moment.

In Xhaka’s absence, Djibril Sow might join forces with Remo Freuler and Denis Zakaria in midfield against the European champions. Newly appointed coach Murat Yakin deployed a 3-5-2 against Greece in his first game in charge of the side. Although he gave starts to several new players, the regulars, including the likes of Manuel Akanji, Yan Sommer, and Nico Elvedi are expected to be back for this feisty encounter.

With Breel Embolo still in the medical room, Haris Seferovic is expected to lead the line for Switzerland.

Probable Playing XI (3-5-2): Yan Sommer; Fabian Schar, Nico Elvedi, Manuel Akanji; Silvan Widmer, Denis Zakaria, Djibril Sow, Remo Freuler, Ricardo Rodriguez; Ruben Vargas, Haris Seferovic

 

ITALY’S WORLD CUP QUALIFYING CAMPAIGN SO FAR

Italy had the opportunity to strut their stuff in their comeback to the field since being crowned European Champions in the match against Bulgaria at the Stadio Artemi Franchi but it didn’t turn out quite as expected. Federico Chiesa, who has been a major reason behind Italy’s success this summer, scored an absolute belter by combining a mazy dribble, a quick one-two exchange and a terrific shot to put his side ahead.

However, Bulgaria had other ideas and Atanas Iliev cancelled out Chiesa’s goal with a left-footed strike. Neither side could score in the second half and despite Italy enjoying the lion’s share of possession as well as chances, they couldn’t register a win.

Following the draw against Bulgaria, Italy now have 10 points in Group C of the World Cup qualifiers. They’ve won thrice and drawn once. Their path to Qatar for the World Cup next year is pretty clear. It must be added here that Roberto Mancini’s men are now on a 35-game unbeaten streak sharing the European record with Spain.

 

PREDICTED LINEUP AND TACTICS AGAINST SWITZERLAND

Italy have three competitive fixtures in the space of nearly a week and need to make changes in order to avoid exhaustion.

Rafael Toloi might replace Alessandro Florenzi who was partly at fault for the Bulgaria goal. Acerbi might also make way for veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini who’s still going strong despite his age.

In attack, Giacomo Raspadori isn’t expected to displace Ciro Immobile from the starting XI. Immobile is supposed to be partnered by Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Chiesa on both wings.

Probable Playing XI (4-3-3): Gianluigi Donnarumma; Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Emerson; Marco Verratti, Jorginho, Nicolo Barella; Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile, Federico Chiesa