Euro 2016 moves into serious business with the knockouts all set to begin this weekend. Switzerland and Poland will kick-start the round of 16 with their encounter at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard. The match will be played on Saturday, June 25.
Switzerland created history of sorts by making it to the knockout stages of a European Championships for the first time. Paired with hosts France in Group A, the Swiss managed to come out unscathed from the group by remaining unbeaten and picking up five points. It was enough for them to end as runners-up to France and advance to the last-16. What plays to their advantage is the one week’s rest they picked up after their last group game against France. The concerns for the Swiss camp come on the efficiency of their attack which hasn’t looked particularly impressive thus far. Their defence was at its best against French holding them for a draw but the draw against Romania and the solitary goal win against Albania highlighted their struggles in the final third. They can’t keep relying on their defence to extend their stay in the Euros – especially in the knockouts.
Poland were one of the dark horses for the title when the tournament started, although they were guilty of not living up to those expectations. Poland were grouped with Germany, Northern Ireland and Ukraine in a tight group C where they finished with seven points courtesy two wins and one draw. Two tight 1-0 wins were enough to take them over the line against Northern Ireland and Ukraine which was followed by a goal less draw against Germany. This was enough to finish runners-up behind Germany and a relatively easier match against Switzerland. The optimism around their chances stems from their excellent organization across the pitch and the presence of natural goal-scorer Robert Lewandowski. While the team lived up to expectations with tight displays thus far, the Bayern Munich forward was conspicuously absent from the scoring sheets.
Switzerland aren’t in great form ahead of this game with just two wins in their last seven encounters. Importantly for them, they are unbeaten in the tournament with two draws in their last two matches. They lost only once in their last five matches but two of them have been draws.
Poland on the other hand have a very impressive recent record with seven wins and one loss in their last ten matches. They too are unbeaten in the tournament but two goalless draws in their last five matches should be a worry ahead of the knockouts.
Key players and team news
For Switzerland, there are doubts over the availability of Admir Mehmedi who could sit out with a minor muscular injury. That apart, the Swiss could line up with the same team that held France to a goalless draw. Watch out for the impressive youngster Breel Embolo who’s already been the cynosure of all eyes with his displays in France.
For Poland, their regular keeper Wojciech Szczesny is still out injured which means another outing for Lukasz Fabianski. Of greater disappointment would be the suspension of winger Bartosz Kapustka for picking up two yellow cards. Lewandowski has been off color so far in the tournament but player of his quality can’t be kept quiet for so long.
Switzerland struggle to score goals as is evident from their recent record – just 10 goals in their last ten encounters. They went goalless for three of these games and in only three matches did they score more than a single goal. They have only two goals in the tournament and one of the scorers is out injured.
Poland too struggled for goals so far with just two coming from them in this tournament. The barren run of Lewandowski – no goals in the last seven matches in national colors – is fast becoming a difficult proposition.
It could be another low scoring encounter which could be decided by a single goal. Back Poland to come up trumps in this match. Total goals under 1.5 looks a slightly aggressive bet but looking at their recent form it’s not off the mark. Switzerland struggled in the final third in all their games and breaking the tight Polish defense could be a mammoth task for them.
Under 1.5 goals at odds of 2.25 with William Hill.