The inaugural UEFA Nations League concludes on Sunday, but before the final of the tournament is played out there is a third placed play-off which involves England taking on Switzerland after both teams were beaten in the semi-finals last week.
I would imagine neither side particularly want to play this fixture at this stage of a hard season but it is another contest against one of the better teams in Europe so they should get something out of it ahead of next summer.
I think it is fair to say that it was a largely subdued performance from Switzerland in their semi-final against Portugal on Wednesday night and they will need to be a good deal better here if they are going to secure third place in the competition. They looked a little short of what was needed in attacking areas and at times their defending was all over the place so there is a lot to improve on.
I wondered going into that semi-final whether they would push themselves to continue the open play we have seen from them recently but I suspected they wouldn’t and they didn’t. They seemed unsure whether to stick or twist and in the end they didn’t really do either which will have disappointed them. They have nothing to lose here though so they should look to open up a little and showcase their talents.
You wanted to see that England had learnt from the disappointment of losing in the semi-final of the World Cup last year but it was clear to see that there is still a lot more work to do in that regard. 12 months ago they went into their shell when they took the lead and it was imperative that they didn’t do that this time around. Sadly for them though, that is exactly what they did and they paid the price accordingly.
They didn’t help themselves with some horrendous mistakes in their own defensive third which led to all three Netherlands goals but at the same time they were content with one goal and never really pushed on and looked for a second which may well have put the semi-final out of reach. That has gone now though and they have one more chance to highlight their ability this term.
Switzerland haven’t declared any injury issues ahead of the game so it might be that they are unchanged. Vladimir Petkovic has hinted that he will play his strongest side so it will be interesting to see if he is true to his word.
Gareth Southgate is expected to be without Ben Chilwell, Marcus Rashford and Jordan Henderson as they have injuries. All eyes will be on the team sheet to see if the name of John Stones is on it after his horror show on Thursday night.
Southgate might freshen England up a little bit for this match but I don’t think that will detract their chances of winning too much. There are not many, if any, players who would get into this England side from the Switzerland ranks so even if the England boss makes a raft of changes his steam should still be strong enough to finish their season on a high.
The key point in this match, and I highlighted it ahead of the Swiss’ semi-final with Portugal, is they just don’t have enough in the attacking third of the pitch. Assuming England don’t repeat the defensive suicide they delivered in their last four clash I expect them to have far too much for this Swiss team regardless of who the Three Lions select.
Back England to beat Switzerland for a 4/10 stake at 2.10 with Betfred
Back them here: