Switzerland will be hoping to get their preparations for the UEFA Nations League Matchday 6 in order when they play Qatar at Stadio di Cornaredo
The international break is back for its final iteration of 2018, as club football takes a break for two weeks, and there are some interesting matches on offer. One such fixture will feature Qatar, who are preparing for the AFC Asian Cup and will meet Switzerland at Stadio di Cornaredo on Wednesday to get into right shape before next year’s tournament.
The results have been a mixed bag for Switzerland since their underwhelming 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign. The Nati have won two and lost as many games, although their defeats have only been by one-goal margins, suggesting an improvement in defence. Attack though, remains a cause for concern despite their 6-0 drubbing of Iceland.
Qatar, on the other hand, have been largely impressive in their four games in the previous two international breaks, notching up narrow wins over China and Ecuador. But, the 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts are coming off the back of a disappointing 0-2 loss at the hands of Uzbekistan in their most recent encounter.
The two sides will be locking horns for the first time ever on Wednesday, and ahead of their maiden meeting, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Vladimir Petkovic has retained largely the core group of his squad that he has stuck with for a couple of years now, as Switzerland get set for the latest round of international fixtures. Stephan Lichtsteiner was back in the squad, perhaps with an eye on the UEFA Nations League tie against Belgium. But, the Arsenal full-back pulled out due to injury.
As far as the Qatar game is concerned, Petkovic could decide to give a number of his young players a chance to make an impression. In goal though, Yann Sommer is likely to retain his spot, an area where Petkovic will need a seasoned campaigner to guide a largely inexperienced back four.
Speaking of the defensive line, Fabian Schar might be the only experienced head at the heart of defence, with Leo Lacroix being his partner. The full-backs should be BSC Young Boys duo Kevin Mbabu and Loris Benito, with Mbabu in particular having a lot of excitement around him.
In the middle of the park, Granit Xhaka should don the armband for Switzerland, with Djibril Sow lining up alongside him in the pivot. Meanwhile, Xherdan Shaqiri is the in-form player for the hosts, having also set the stage on fire for Liverpool. And, with Breel Embolo’s availability in doubt, the 27-year-old should start on the right flank.
On the left, Steven Zuber will be another Swiss superstar who will look to get some minutes under his belt, while Edmilson Fernandes is likely to start in the hole. Upfront, Haris Seferovic might be rested with the game against Belgium in mind, meaning Albian Ajeti and Mario Gavranovic could get the chance to impress Petkovic.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Sommer; Mbabu, Schar, Lacroix, Benito; Sow, Xhaka; Shaqiri, Fernandes, Zuber; Ajeti
While Switzerland will have a mix of youth and experience, Felix Sanchez should choose his best possible lineup to give his key men some much needed experience up against some of the best players in Europe. The Spaniard has shuffled his system so far, but the 4-3-3 formation seems to be getting the best results.
In goal, Saad Al-Sheeb should be the preferred option, even though Yousef Hassan had started the last game against Uzbekistan. Up ahead in defence, Abdul Aziz Hatem and Pedro Miguel have been favoured as the full-back pairing, while Mohammed Mousa and Al-Mahdi Ali Mukhtar should be the centre-backs.
In the middle of the park, Karim Boudiaf is likely to have the job of screening the backline, while Ali Assad and Boualem Khoukhi should provide the attacking impetus. The real difference makers for Qatar though, will be the front-men.
The likes of Almoez Ali, Hassan al Heidos and Akram Afif have been the men in form for Qatar under the tutelage of Felix Sanchez, who will look towards the trio to help spring a surprise over Switzerland.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Al-Sheeb; Miguel, Mousa, Ali Mukhtar, Hatem; Khoukhi, Boudiaf, Assad; al Heidos, Almoez Ali, Afif
- Wednesday’s match will be the first meeting between Switzerland and Qatar.
- Switzerland have been imperious at home in 2018, winning each of the three games they have hosted without conceding a single goal (14 goals scored).
- Qatar have given a good account of themselves this calendar year, losing just one of the six sanctioned games they have played this year (W4 D1).
- Both sides have seen three or more goals in three of their last four outings.
Player to Watch
Stephan Lichtsteiner was recalled into the Switzerland squad by Vladimir Petkovic. But, the veteran full-back has pulled out due to injury, which gives Kevin Mbabu two games to make an impression.
The electric speedster has made waves at club level with BSC Young Boys, and two solid outings in the latest international break could help him cement his place in the national side as well. A player with a burgeoning talent. One to keep an eye on.
Switzerland 2-0 Qatar
Qatar have made quite the progress under the tutelage of Felix Sanchez, with their win over Ecuador being particularly eye catching. But, Switzerland will present a challenge on a whole different level for the Middle Eastern nation.
The Nati have one of the strongest records at home, among teams in Europe, and taking anything away from Lugano will be hugely surprising. The Hard Tackle predicts a comfortable outing for a young Swiss outfit, who should make quick work of Qatar in a 2-0 win.