Switzerland - Belgium Preview: Red Devils take on fellow Euro 2016 qualifiers in first friendly

In their first of three Euro 2016 warm-up friendlies, one of the pre-tournament favourites Belgium take on fellow qualifiers Switzerland in Geneva as the Red Devils look to boost their morale with a win.

Switzerland - Belgium Preview: Red Devils take on fellow Euro 2016 qualifiers in first friendly
(Picture: Getty Images)

Belgium take on Switzerland in Geneva's Stade de Suisse on Saturday afternoon in the first of three warm-up friendlies ahead of Euro 2016.

Marc Wilmots' side have been on a training camp in Switzerland since Monday as they prepare for their country's first European Championships in 16 years and they face a tricky first fixture.

The Swiss have also qualified for this summer's tournament and join Albania, Romania and hosts France in Group A and boast the likes of Xherdan ShaqiriRicardo Rodriguez, exciting young striker Breel Embolo and recent Arsenal signing Granit Xhaka.

Belgium looking to kick off build-up to Euros with morale-boosting victory

Belgium haven't played since a disappointing defeat at the hands of Portugal in March followed a run of 14 games with a single loss and so this clash allows Wilmots a welcome opportunity to try out a new defensive system which he has been seen trialling in recent training sessions. 

That has seen Tottenham Hotspur duo Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen - who comprised one of the Premier League's sturdiest defences in 2015-16 - on either side of the defence at full-back.

In the centre, Manchester City defender Jason Denayer - who Wilmots has touted as the ideal replacement for injured captain Vincent Kompany - has been preferred as the partner of Nicolas Lombaerts of Zenit St Petersburg.

However, the Belgium boss has also been mulling over the use of the experienced Laurent Ciman at right-back, with Spurs' Alderweireld joining Barcelona centre-back Thomas Vermaelen and Vertonghten taking up a left-back role.

It's likely Wilmots will experiment with both set-ups across their three friendlies - with home games against Finland and Norway to follow for the Red Devils back in Genk. 

Belgium boss Wilmots with several of his squad in training earlier this week. (Picture: Getty Images)
Belgium boss Wilmots with several of his squad in training earlier this week. (Picture: Getty Images)

With Lombaerts' recovery from a muscle tear coming along slower than expected, he could be replaced by Racing Genk's Christian Kabasele in the 23-man strong travelling party and as such Wilmots could take a look at the back-four of Ciman, Alderweireld, Vermaelen and Vertonghen against Switzerland.

Also having been played out-of-position in training is Liverpool striker Divock Origi, who enjoyed a breakthrough first campaign at Anfield where he struck 10 goals but has been utilised out on the wing - with club team-mate Christian Benteke,  Romelu Lukaku of Everton and Marseille's Michy Batshuayi amongst those vying for a central striking role.

As one of the pre-tournament favourites, Belgium will look to bring the best out of key players such as Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne in these warm-up friendlies - with much of the country's hopes placed upon the Chelsea forward and stand-in skipper as they bid for glory.

Several doubts looking to prove their fitness prior to the tournament

Elsewhere, Bjorn Engels has dropped out due to a groin injury which will keep him out of the tournament. That has made way for Ciman's return - the Montreal Impact right-back coming back into the national team fold for the first time since September 2015.

However, Dedryck Boyata is expected to recover from the after-a hamstring injury whilst Thomas Meunier's thigh injury should be managed so that he can return in time for Wilmots' final squad decision, as he cuts his selection from 24 to 23 by midnight May 31st.

Belgium haven't played since a 2-1 defeat to Portugal at the end of March. (Picture: Getty Images)
Belgium haven't played since a 2-1 defeat to Portugal at the end of March. (Picture: Getty Images)

Taking on esteemed opponents such as Switzerland, who finished second in the same qualifying group as England after five consecutive wins to end the campaign, should allow Belgium to properly analyse the fitness of several such players as well as try out their various tactical set-ups.

Provided Wilmots can ensure all of the team's star players fit into one side and gel together, Belgium have a real chance of making a tilt for the title in France - although they must first navigate their way through a tough group containing Italy, Sweden and Republic of Ireland.

A promising outside bet to win it, Belgium's squad contains an abundance of individual quality - particularly with a strong representation of the Premier League - but they will need their best players to be at their best to reach their first Euro final since 1980.

It is therefore vital that they enter the tournament with confidence and momentum and a win over Vladimir Petković's Switzerland would be the ideal starting point.