Preview: Wales vs. Switzerland

Preview: Wales vs. Switzerland

Five years on from their magical run to the European Championship semi-finals, Wales begin their Euro 2020 adventure with a showdown against Switzerland in Baku on Saturday.

Both sides have ambitions of reaching at least the first knockout round in the pan-European competition, but Group A is arguably the most competitive of the lot.

Just eight members of Wales’s squad from the last European Championship finals remain, and even those – Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen & Co – are no longer at the same level.

However, as showed during their qualifying campaign, when putting together a five-game unbeaten run to finish runners-up to Croatia, Wales remain a relative force.

The Dragons are effectively battling with Switzerland and Turkey for second place behind in-form Italy in Group A, and they can take confidence from recent results.

Wales have defeated a lot of similarly-ranked nations over the past year or so, including in the Nations League when finishing top to earn promotion to the top tier.

Losing their manager, Ryan Giggs, due to an impending court case is far from ideal, of course, but Rob Page has ensured a seamless transition in his seven months in interim charge.

There were positives to take from the 3-0 loss to France last week, as strange as that may sound on the face of it, though the less said about the 0-0 draw with Albania the better.

Wales do not qualify for major tournaments all that often, but when they do they tend to leave their mark, reaching the quarter-finals in the 1958 World Cup and semis at Euro 2016
That has not really been the case for Switzerland at this tournament, having been eliminated at the group stage three times before a last-16 exit to Poland five years ago.

La Nati will be confident of sealing a best-ever finish this time around, particularly if their recent form is anything to go by.

They have won six games in a row and held Spain to a 1-1 draw ahead of that run, which stretches back to last November.

Indeed, only 12 nations in the entire world are currently ranked higher than the Swiss, so falling short at the group stage again would be a major disappointment.

With a number of talented players in their ranks, this may just be the year that Switzerland get it right at a major tournament.

Wales form (all competitions):
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Switzerland form (all competitions):
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