With attacking returns often spread around the team, EURO 2020 Fantasy managers can be forgiven for doubting whether Switzerland’s assets can compete for a place in their squads this summer.
While the Nati have qualified for every major international tournament since Vladimir Petković’s appointment in 2014, progressing from the group stages at EURO 2016 and in each of the last two World Cups, a tough EURO 2020 group could expose their biggest weakness: finding the back of the net.
If they cannot overcome their problems in front of goal, Switzerland could find themselves denied the chance to win a first knockout match since 1938, even if they have become regular fixtures of the last-sixteen round on the international scene in recent years.
In partnership with UEFA, we continue our series of EURO 2020 articles by examining Switzerland in detail to see if any of their players can compete for a place in your Fantasy teams.
ROAD TO QUALIFICATION
Switzerland booked their qualification place at EURO 2020 as winners of Group D finishing only one point ahead of unbeaten runners-up Denmark in a qualification campaign that threw little in the way of challenge at Petković’s men.
While their tally of 19 goals worked out at 2.4 per qualifying match, 10 of those were scored against whipping boys Gibraltar, leaving just nine scored in the Nati’s other six outings.
And to put Switzerland’s group into context, they only conceded six times, four of those coming in two matches against a Denmark team who took four points off them, while Republic of Ireland and Gibraltar were the only other two sides to breach their defence.
Despite the overall low quality of opposition, three times in qualifying Switzerland gave up goals in the 84th minute or later that took points off their final haul.
SWITZERLAND’S EURO 2020 QUALIFICATION RECORD
|Played||Won||Drawn||Lost||Goals for||Goals against||Clean sheets|
Meanwhile, no Nati player managed more than three goals during qualifying, Cedric Itten, who has not made the preliminary EURO 2020 squad, achieving that total in just 110 minutes of action.
Behind the Rangers forward, midfielders Granit Xhaka (€6.0m) and Denis Zakaria (€5.0m) provided just two goals each while Albian Ajeti (unselected), Loris Benito (€4.5m), Breel Embolo (€8.0m), Admir Mehmedi (€6.5m) all tied as the most creative players with two assists each.
EURO 2020 Fantasy managers are sure to be put off by such statistics, which help underpin the doubts as to whether this admittedly talented group of players can deliver on their promise, especially on the back of some mixed results since qualification.
SWITZERLAND’S MATCHES IN 2020 AND 2021
|Played||Won||Drawn||Lost||Goals for||Goals against||Clean sheets|
After beating Belgium 5-2 during the inaugural Nations League tournament, Petković’s men progressed to the last four in 2019 where they were eliminated by Portugal in the semi-finals and lost to England on penalties in the third/fourth place play-off.
But following their EURO 2020 qualification campaign, Switzerland endured a seven-game winless run during 2020. That included defeats to Ukraine and Spain in the latest edition of the Nations League while both Belgium and Croatia defeated them in friendlies.
There were still some signs of promise, notably the Nati’s two draws with Germany, a stalemate with Spain and a morale-boosting five-game winning streak since November 17, 2020, although Ukraine, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Finland and the United States were hardly challenging opponents.
And even then, Switzerland’s four matches in 2021 featured seven different goal-scorers, the erratic Haris Seferović (€8.5m) joint-topping the charts with left wing-back Steven Zuber (€7.0m) on two strikes thus far.
Again, these numbers must surely make for ominous reading as Petković’s prepares to pit his men against some of the stingiest defences at EURO 2020 this summer. Turkey booked their tournament place having topped the charts for fewest goals conceded (three) and most clean sheets (eight) during qualifying and, during that phase of the competition, the Crescent Stars, Italy and Wales conceded just 13 times in 28 matches.
- Most starts: Ricardo Rodríguez, Yann Sommer, Granit Xhaka, Denis Zakaria (all 8), Manuel Akanji, Nico Elvedi (both 7), Breel Embolo (6).
- Most goals: Cedric Itten (3), Granit Xhaka, Denis Zakaria (both 2)
- Most assists: Albian Ajeti, Loris Benito, Breel Embolo, Admir Mehmedi (all 2)
- Goals scored: 19
- Goals conceded: 6
- Clean sheets: 4
THE KEY TARGETS
Considering it is difficult to promote Switzerland’s mid-priced attacking assets with much gusto, their value assets are likely to more useful to EURO 2020 Fantasy managers this summer.
Indeed, virtual ever-present goalkeeper Yann Sommer (€5.0m) is currently the most-selected Nati player on the game, although even then, he sits in just 3.0% of squads at the time of writing.
Set-piece and penalty-taking defender Ricardo Rodríguez (€5.5m) is fondly remembered by those who played Fantasy games for EURO 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, perhaps why he is the joint-second most-popular Switzerland player this summer (2.0%).
While he remains on corners and free-kicks, it is worth pointing out the Torino man shared these duties with Xhaka during qualifying. Meanwhile, Petković’s recent switch to a 3-4-1-2 formation after inheriting 4-2-3-1 from Ottmar Hitzfield in 2014, has arguably tucked Rodríguez into a more restricted role.
The 28-year-old was previously used as a traditional left-back for his country but now operates on the left-hands side of a three-man defence, EURO Fantasy midfielder Zuber the favourite at left wing-back. Meanwhile, Rodríguez missed his latest spot-kick for the national side, as they beat the United States in Sunday evening’s pre-tournament friendly.
The cheaper options in defence have to start with Nico Elvedi (€4.5m) who operates on the right-hand side of the back-three and is the most likely of Switzerland’s €4.5m options to start against Saturday, June 12. The versatile Borussia Mönchengladbach defender, who can play centre-back or full-back, scored three Bundesliga goals this season and also netted in the Champions League.
For a little bit more money, EURO 2020 Fantasy managers could pick up right wing-back Kevin Mbabu (€5.0m) who, unlike his left-sided counterpart Zuber, is classified as a Fantasy defender by UEFA.
The very mobile and confident ball-playing centre-back Fabian Schär (€5.0m) is available at the same price, and has a history of operating in midfield for the national team although he has missed large portions of a tough Newcastle season with injury.
Meanwhile, Manuel Akanji (€5.0m) is a nailed-on centre-back and, at the same price, central midfielder Zakaria could provide value based on his number of starts during qualification and his two goals. That said, he has only made one start from a possible four since January, appearing twice as a substitute.
THE LONG SHOTS
As mentioned earlier, the key attacking assets in Switzerland’s squads have to come into the tournament rated as long shots for our Fantasy squads.
Xherdan Shaqiri (€7.0m) has more international goals than any compatriot in the preliminary squad (23) but has spent the last 12 months as a benchwarmer at Liverpool. What impact his lack of playing time has had on his ability to perform for the Nati remains to be seen, even if he has benefitted from training with Jurgen Klopp’s men off the pitch.
Either way, Shaqiri has always been an unpredictable figure for Switzerland, capable of swinging from the apex of disinterest to carrying the entire team on his shoulders within the ebb and flow of just one game. He has one assist and one goal in four appearances since the turn of the year, the first time he found the net for his country since 2018.
Despite his 21 goals in 74 caps, centre-forward Seferović is equally as erratic as Shaqiri. He has netted twice in the last four matches but has not scored more than two international goals in a calendar year since 2018.
He might offer a little more than strike parter Breel Embolo (€8.0m) whose Fantasy credentials should arguably justify more than a €0.5m price gap between him and Seferović. The Mönchengladbach forward is well-known for his power, pace and technical ability but a slew of injuries and lack of confidence in front of goal mean the 24-year-old has five goals from 42 caps.
FANTEAM PRICE CORNER
Switzerland’s players can offer slightly better value on FanTeam, especially in attack, with Seferovic and Embolo coming in at €6.5m and €6.0m respectively.
There are €0.5m savings on Rodríguez and left wing-back Zuber, who can be picked up for €5.0m and €4.5m respectively.