Football

After frying the French, the Swiss can do anything

Resurgence is the key word for Spain and Switzerland, who will be meeting in the first quarterfinal of Euro 2020 on Friday. Spain woke up to their resplendent history while the Swiss overcame their historical contentment to survive a knockout round in ages.

The quarter-final will be a clash between two teams with contrasting approaches -- one with everything to play for and the other with nothing to lose. The result could be a cracker for fans. Having served us sizzling appetizers in the round of 16, the onus is on the two to follow them up with a sumptuous feast in the quarters.

Spain are finally the Spain we got to know at Euro 2008, although the current bunch doesn’t boast of a Xavi or Iniesta just yet. Pedri has clearly demonstrated that he will one day grow into a Xavi with his composed performance against Croatia.

Spain are finally the Spain we got to know at Euro 2008, although the current bunch doesn’t boast of a Xavi or Iniesta just yet. Pedri has clearly demonstrated that he will one day grow into a Xavi with his composed performance against Croatia.

The front three of Ferran Torres, Alvaro Morata and Pablo Sarabia have the mobility to pose an attacking threat from different angles. With a goal each in the previous match, the trident is in fine fettle. It is up to Koke and Pedri to feed their hungry forwards. Defence remains Spain’s Achilles heel.

After their odd-defying performance against France, the Swiss should have neutrals on their side. Unlike Spain, they can let their hair down on the pitch. Haris Seferovic was lively in the round of 16 with two headed goals. Switzerland have variety in attack.

Steven Zuber, the tournament leader in assists with four, and Granit Xhaka are capable creators. Xherdan Shaqiri is as mercurial as ever. He can turn a match around with a flash of brilliance. The Swiss are, however, not over reliant on him, as they showed against France. If the match were to go to penalties, smart money would be on the Swiss.

Players to watch out for

Spain: Ferran Torres. He darts across the forward line like a playful child and the 21-year-old can be a real menace for experienced defenders. The Bergkampeque goal he scored against Croatia would have done his confidence some good.

Switzerland: Haris Seferovic. There is little pressure on the forward, as he is not a household name. But the fire in his belly is visible in his game.

Likely formations: Spain: 4-3-3. Switzerland: 3-4-1-2.

(The writer has covered the Fifa World Cup from South Africa, Brazil and Russia)