The mood is one of Doom and Gloom around England’s national team at the moment and while tournament glory is a long way off qualification to Euro 2016 looks assured regardless of the result against Switzerland tonight in Basel.
The World Cup was the traditional story of hope and disappointment with a very positive performance against Italy full of attacking intent, but they didn’t carry anything like the same threat against Uruguay or Costa Rica, going out thanks to Luis Suarez’s two goals and a below par performance before the final round of group matches.
Switzerland needed a last minute winner against Ecuador to get out of the group – they were taken apart by France in one of the most entertaining games of the tournament – but impressed with their attitude against Argentina, holding out until there were 3 minutes left to go in the last 16, and have the air of a progressive side about them.
There’s certainly more positivity about them then Hodgson’s beleaguered Three Lions, who were desperate in a 1-0 win over Norway during which – as has been well pointed out – they had just two shots on target, and looked far more coherent and lively when new captain Wayne Rooney was substituted and Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck played upfront with Daniel Sturridge in the no.10 role.
Sturridge has already injured himself and will miss tonight’s clash, leaving Welbeck upfront with Sturridge in behind, but it remains to be seen if Wayne Rooney can fit into a system which seems to be more effective without him there than not and seeing Jordan Henderson limp out of training was a big blow to England’s prospects tonight.
Norway did not have the tools upfront to test them but Switzerland certainly have the quality where it was missing with an attacking midfield trio of Valentin Stocker, Granit Xhaka of and Xeridan Sahqiri all the type of midfielders that have given England serious problems in the past and all well capable of taking advantage of Henderson’s potential absence while Josip Drmic’s pace should give Phil Jagielka (who’s Everton side have condeded at least 2 goals in each game this season) and Gary Cahill plenty of problems.
England have had some notable success playing on the break but Valon Behrami and Gokhan Iner should be well upto containing them and making life very hard for Hodgson’s men tonight; Ricardo Rodriguez and Stefan Lichensteiner can also attack Phil Jones and Leighton Baines defensively.
The Swiss are a tempting bet at the odds but it could pay to be conservative and go draw no bet with England having lost just one of their last 13 internationals away from home. However, they have failed to win 6 games and in their World Cup qualifying group, of the 15 goals they scored, 13 came against Moldova and San Marino with draws against Ukraine, Montenegro, and Poland. The draw is tempting at 11/5 and so is the 1-1 (the final score in games against Poland and Montenegro) with a lay of England also making appeal.
2 pts Switzerland draw no bet (5/6 Betfair Sportsbook)
1 pt 1-1 draw (6/1 BetVictor)