Ireland will be hoping to continue their solid start to the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers when they play hosts to Vladimir Petkovic’s Switzerland in Dublin.

Republic of Ireland will be aiming to extend their unbeaten run to five matches in the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, when they welcome Switzerland to the Aviva Stadium on Thursday evening.

Mick McCarthy’s side are at the top of the table in Group D, having picked up ten points from their four games till date, with three wins and a draw. The Green Army have had a fairly easy run so far, having played Gibraltar twice and Georgia once. Their other fixture came against Denmark, which they drew 1-1.

Ireland defeated Gibraltar 2-0 in their latest fixture back in June and will be hoping to continue on their unbeaten ways and take another step towards qualification for the big event next summer. Switzerland, though, will be a step-up from their previous opponents and will pose a stern test for McCarthy and his men.

Switzerland have played just two games in the qualifying campaign so far and have won and drawn one each, collecting four points. Vladimir Petkovic’s side are currently stationed in the third place in the table, a solitary point below Denmark who have played a match extra.

Switzerland were last in action in June, when they lost to England on penalties in the UEFA Nations League third-place playoffs. Their previous involvement in the Euro 2020 qualifiers was in March, when they bottled a three-goal lead in the last five minutes to draw 3-3 against Denmark. La Nati will be hoping to notch a win this time out and make their way towards the top of the table.

Team News & Tactics

Republic of Ireland

Mick McCarthy's second stint as Ireland manager is off to a solid start (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Mick McCarthy’s second stint as Ireland manager is off to a solid start (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Sean Maguire (eye), Matt Doherty (knee) and Keiren Westwood (knee) withdrew from the squad owing to injuries. James Collins, Cyrus Christie and Manchester United goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara, on loan at Burton Albion, have been called up as replacements. Crystal Palace midfielder James McCarthy will also miss out while Shane Long hasn’t been selected.

Middlesbrough keeper Darren Randolph should continue between the sticks for the Irishmen and will be shielded by a backline comprising of Seamus Coleman and Enda Stevens as the full-backs, with Shane Duffy and Richard Keogh at the heart of the defence.

McCarthy opted to field a five-man midfield against Denmark and is likely to sacrifice a striker in order to shore up the middle of the park once again when they take on the Swiss. That would mean veteran Glenn Whelan starts as the holding midfielder, supported by Burnley’s Jeff Hendrick and Aston Villa’s Conor Hourihane.

Robbie Brady is not part of the squad, opening the slot on the right flank. Sheffield United attacker Callum Robinson could feature from kick-off, after his strong display against Chelsea this past weekend. On the left flank, the highest goalscorer in the current squad, James McClean, is a guaranteed starter.

David McGoldrick should spearhead the attack for the hosts on Thursday night, ahead of Stoke City’s Scott Hogan and Luton Town striker Collins.

Probable Lineup (4-5-1): Randolph; Coleman, Duffy, Keogh, Stevens; Robinson, Hendrick, Whelan, Hourihane, McClean; McGoldrick

Switzerland

No Shaqiri for Switzerland (Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

No Shaqiri for Switzerland (Photo by Miguel Riopa/AFP/Getty Images)

The biggest news coming out of the Swiss camp is that star man Xherdan Shaqiri has asked to be left out of the squad as he wants to focus on his club career with Liverpool. Apart from Shaqiri, veteran Stephan Lichtsteiner isn’t on the roster, while the likes of Timm Klose and Steven Zuber also miss out.

Petkovic has preferred the 3-5-2 setup in the last few months and is likely to stick with the same tactics in Dublin on Thursday. Seasoned campaigner Yann Sommer is a surefire starter between the sticks for Switzerland, with Nico Elvedi, Fabian Schar and Manuel Akanji likely to form the three-man backline against Ireland.

Kevin Mbabu and Ricardo Rodriguez should occupy the wing-back slots on the right and left side respectively and will be tasked with providing the width going forward.

Denis Zakaria will slot in as the defensive midfielder for the visitors, alongside skipper Granit Xhaka, whose vision and distribution could be key in unlocking an organised Ireland defence. The third midfield slot will be a toss-up between Edimilson Fernandes and Remo Freuler, with the latter likely to get the nod on Thursday.

Haris Seferovic is a guaranteed starter as one of the two forwards against Ireland. With Shaqiri not in the squad, the second slot is likely to be taken up by 22-year-old Breel Embolo.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Sommer; Elvedi, Schar, Akanji; Mbabu, Zakaria, Xhaka, Freuler, Rodriguez; Embolo, Seferovic

Key Stats

  • Republic of Ireland have the upper hand over Switzerland when it comes to head-to-head record, having beaten their opponents on Thursday on eight occasions previously, while losing five times. Three games have ended in draws.
  • Republic of Ireland are unbeaten in their last three meetings against Switzerland (W1 D2). They last met in an international friendly in March 2016, with the Green Army clinching a narrow 1-0 win.
  • Switzerland have won just two of their last six fixtures across all competitions (D1 L3). Ireland, on the other hand, have not lost any of their previous six clashes, winning and drawing three games apiece.
  • Mick McCarthy’s men are yet to be defeated in the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying campaign. In their four matches till date, Ireland have scored five goals while conceding just once, keeping three clean sheets in the process.
  • Switzerland, in their two matches in the qualifiers, have scored as many goals as their upcoming opponents, while letting in three goals so far.

Player to Watch

Haris Seferovic

Seferovic will need to fire for Switzerland (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)

Seferovic will need to fire for Switzerland (Photo by Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images)

With Xherdan Shaqiri not part of the squad, the goalscoring burden will entirely fall on the shoulders of striker Haris Seferovic. The 27-year-old is the highest goalscorer in the current squad named by Petkovic for the qualifiers (17), and is one of only two members with more than 10 strikes against their names along with captain Granit Xhaka.

Having missed the last set of qualifiers with a groin injury, the Benfica striker will be raring to get off the mark. And, going up against a tight-knit defensive unit of the Irish team, Seferovic will need to be at the top of his game and be clinical in front of goal, if Switzerland are to come out on top on Thursday.

Prediction

Republic of Ireland 1-1 Switzerland

Republic of Ireland have made a solid start to life under Mick McCarthy and are yet to be beaten in their qualifying campaign. A well-organised, solid side, the hosts will not allow many goalscoring opportunities for Switzerland, who will be at a disadvantage without their talisman Xherdan Shaqiri to call upon.

Ireland have won both of their Euro 2020 qualifiers at home, but that run is likely to come to a halt on Thursday night. We at The Hard Tackle are predicting this one to end in a dull 1-1 draw.

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