Preview: Switzerland vs. Italy – prediction, team news, lineups, where to watch
A surprise midweek setback for European champions Italy will see them determined to claim a crucial victory in Switzerland on Sunday, as they look to go one step further to reach Qatar 2022.
While the Azzurri were in the hands of Bulgaria in Florence, their Alpine rivals, whom they met at the European Championship a few weeks ago, were in friendly action due to an uneven number of teams in Group C qualifying for the World Cup.
An encounter with humble Bulgaria at the atmospheric Stadio Artemio Franchi seemed like the perfect way for Italy to return to competitive action for the first time since their summer success, but the events did not go as expected on Thursday as they rejoined the way to the next. World Cup finals of the year.
A sensational opening goal from Federico Chiesa, who characteristically cut through the visitors’ defense before trading a one-two and shooting home with typical poise, was disallowed later in the first half, with a good left-foot shot from Atanas. Iliev who beat Bulgaria. an unlikely 1-1 draw in the Tuscan capital.
Having now erased their previously perfect start to the qualifying process, Roberto Mancini’s men face perhaps their most demanding task of the group as they head to Basel for a decisive clash with Switzerland.
Heading into the game, they can boast a remarkable 35-game unbeaten streak, which equals the European record set by Spain, including a 3-0 win over the Swiss at the Stadio Olimpico in early June, thanks to Manuel Locatelli’s double.
Nonetheless, this weekend’s opponents remain their only credible rivals for the only spot in the automatic standings, as they are four points behind the Azzurri but have two games in hand.
Having previously edged Bulgaria, Northern Ireland, and Lithuania 2-0, Italy have moved into pole position in Group C, and their second continental title this summer sees them as one of the favorites to claim the biggest prize in Group C. Qatar next year.
However, the scars are still open from La Nazionale’s abject failure to reach Russia three years ago, after which Mancini radically revised all aspects of the Italian approach to spectacular effect. So now they must quickly forget their frustration during the week and put on a decisive performance on Sunday.
In their first outing since being eliminated from Euro 2020 by Spain, using the tortuous penalty shootout method, Switzerland showed little sign of a hangover, as they ended Greece’s 14-game unbeaten streak with a friendly win by 2-1 midweek.
Two stars of a campaign in which Nati bounced back from his tough loss to the Italians with a shock defeat of world champions France in the round of 16, Ruben Vargas and Steven Zuber, were on the score sheet Wednesday when Murat Yakin regained his reign. as a manager on the go.
After replacing the inimitable Vladimir Petkovic, who enjoyed success and acclaim for much of his time in charge of the Swiss team, former Basel coach Yakin now leads his nation to crucial qualifiers with the Azzurri and then Northern Ireland. in Windsor Park. So far they have the maximum points from the games with Bulgaria and Lithuania, but they have to catch up.
Reaching the quarter-final stage of the Euro for the first time will undoubtedly have boosted a group of talented players, mostly from the Bundesliga, but also with a handful of members from other major leagues in Europe, before their return. to the competition. action.
Indeed, beyond penalties, Switzerland have only lost once in their last 14 matches, indicating their consistency and confirming their reputation as one of the best current teams on the continent. However, the identity of his conquerors on that one occasion is sure to give Yakin and company cause for consternation, particularly with their captain and star player, both sidelined on Sunday.
Switzerland possible starting lineup:
Sommer; Schar, Elvedi, Akanji; Widmer, Zakaria, Sow, Freuler, Rodriguez; Vargas, Seferovic
Italy possible starting lineup:
Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Chiellini, Bonucci, Emerson; Verratti, Jorginho, Barella; Insigne, Immobile, Chiesa