Switzerland and Poland will contest the first knockout fixture of Euro 2016 on Saturday afternoon, each looking to become the first team to reach the last eight.
Switzerland currently have everyone available with no fresh injuries to worry about. Youngster Breel Embolo is expected to start for the Swiss side after completing an impressive performance against France. A small worry for Switzerland’s coach, Vladimir Petkovic, is that the following players are one booking away from missing the next game if they go through; Fabian Schar, Granit Xhaka, Valon Behrami and Embolo.
Switzerland’s predicted XI: Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schar, Djourou, Rodrgiuez; Xhaka, Dzemaili; Shaqiri, Embolo, Mehmedi.
Poland’s first choice goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczesny, is still out with a thigh injury and Lukasz Fabianski will take his place in the line-up. Adam Nawalka rested a few players in their last game against Ukraine, but will most likely bring them back for this game. Midfielder Bartosz Kapustka will miss this game after a picking up his second booking in the recent match.
Poland’s predicted XI: Fabianski; Piszczek, Glik, Pazdan, Jedrzejczyk; Blaszczykowski, Krychowiak, Maczynski, Grosicki; Milik, Lewandowski.
The main two players that will be looked out for are Switzerland’s Granit Xhaka and Poland’s Grzegorz Krychowiak.
Both players have been vital for their national sides and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top. It’s not a surprise that Xhaka and Krychowiak have been mentioned as the key battle, the individuals dictate the play and have created many attacks for their sides in recent weeks.
Whoever beats the other individual during this battle will surely have the advantage throughout the game of guiding their side towards the victory. Xhaka has been impressive for Switzerland during the Euros; the first Arsenal signing of the summer has completed the most passes for the Swiss in all the matches. Meanwhile Krychowiak has been a rock just ahead of Poland’s defence, not many times you will see an attacker go past him very easily.
Switzerland have won only one of their ten head-to-head matches against Poland.
Poland have only won four and drawn five during those ten meetings.
Last time both countries met; the game resulted in a 2-2 friendly back in November 2014.
What to expect...
Poland have been defensively solid throughout the group stages, so it will take a lot from Switzerland’s attack to break them down. Zero goals have been conceded by the Polish so far in this competition, whilst the Swiss have only scored two goals themselves, so expect a tight one!
Robert Lewandowski is recognised as Poland’s key player but midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak has turned into the main individual to make the side tick in a lot of matches. For Switzerland, Xherdan Shaqiri will be witnessed as their star man who is still yet to shine during the Euros.