Switzerland will try to follow up their shock elimination of world champions France at Euro 2020 against Spain on Friday after reaching the quarter-finals of a major tournament for the first time in 67 years.
Vladimir Petkovic’s side recovered from two goals down to force extra time against much-fancied France and prevailed on penalties as 2018 World Cup hero Kylian Mbappe missed the decisive spot-kick.
Now the Swiss hope to spring another surprise against a Spain team that has scored 10 times in two games after a slow start to the group stage.
Alvaro Morata’s redemptive strike helped secure a 5-3 extra-time win over Croatia, but Spain will need to cut out the errors if they are to contend for a record fourth European Championship.
The Juventus forward and his family had been subjected to abuse by fans in Seville after he missed a series of chances in the group stage.
History is on Spain’s side against Switzerland, having lost just once in 22 meetings, a 1-0 defeat in South Africa that sparked their run to the 2010 World Cup title.
Sergio Busquets, the Spain captain, is the lone survivor from that team, while the Barcelona midfielder and Jordi Alba are the only two players in the squad left from their Euro 2012 triumph.
The win over Croatia was Spain’s first in a knockout fixture since they beat Italy 4-0 to claim the second of back-to-back European crowns.
However, Switzerland celebrated what striker Haris Seferovic called “the most beautiful of nights” as they dumped out France to win their first European Championship knockout tie.
The last time the Swiss reached a major quarter-final they lost 7-5 to Austria as hosts of the 1954 World Cup, the highest-scoring game in the tournament’s history.
Fast-forward more than half a century and a first semi-final is within reach for Switzerland, whose Sarajevo-born coach is symbolic of the squad’s multi-cultural composition.
However, he will have to do without captain Granit Xhaka, whose booking against France means the combative Arsenal midfielder is suspended for the next game.
The winners will face Italy or Belgium in the semi-finals at Wembley on Tuesday.
Who’s saying what?
Vladimir Petkovic, Switzerland head coach
“We need to be hungry to make it to the next round. From this point on I can’t say I’m satisfied –- because, for me, the next step is always the most important. We want to make it to the next round, even if we’re facing one of the favourites in Spain.”
Xherdan Shakiri, Switzerland’s stand-in captain
“I will prepare as I do for every match. I never change the routine, even if I’m wearing the captain’s armband. I am very proud to lead the team in such an important match, and I want to show my skills on the pitch and help the side.”
“We have shown that we don’t just defend. As we proved against France, we can score more than one goal. We want to show our style of football, 100%, if we do that then everything is possible.”
Luis Enrique, Spain head coach
“Truth is that Switzerland went through and nothing else really matters. The luck that we have, or the misfortune, is that we know each other very well having played each other in the Nations League.
They will be very tough opponents. One of the best collectives in the tournament and it is going to be tough.”
Unai Simon, Spain goalkeeper
“The quarter-final depends on us not our rival. It wouldn’t matter if it were France, the Swiss, Ukraine - we are here to win so we have to face and beat the best,”
Switzerland vs Spain H2H
Stats and Trivia
• Switzerland have managed only one win in their 22 fixtures against Spain (D5 L16) – although they have lost only one of the last four games between the sides (W1 D2).
• This is the sides’ first-ever Euro meeting, final tournament or qualifying, although that 2010 encounter was their third at the World Cup. Current Spain coach Luis Enrique scored the second goal – his first at international level – in Spain’s 3-0 win in Washington in the 1994 round of 16; Spain were also 2-1 winners in the 1966 group stage in Sheffield.
• This is Switzerland’s fourth successive appearance in a major tournament having also qualified for the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, reaching the last 16 at both. This is the first time they have reached the quarter-final of a major tournament since the 1954 World Cup, a tournament they hosted.
• Spain are one of five sides who did not lose a game in the Euro 2020 preliminaries, along with Belgium, Italy – who both won all their fixtures, and have also recorded four victories at the finals – Denmark and Ukraine. Spain had more shots (227), possession (70%) and completed a greater percentage of their passes (91%) than any other team in qualifying.
• Switzerland’s record in 17 Euro finals games is now W3 D7 L7.
• Spain became the first team to score five goals in successive EURO matches with a 5-3 defeat of Croatia in the last 16 on 28 June, a game in which they had led 3-1 with five minutes left. Extra-time goals from Álvaro Morata and Oyarzabal finally took Spain through.
• Spain’s record in Euro quarter-finals is W3 L5, including a forfeit defeat in 1960. Before beating Italy on penalties in 2008, they had not won a tie since defeating the Republic of Ireland 7-1 on aggregate in 1964, losing four in a row; they were also victorious in the 2012 last eight against France (2-0). La Roja’s last quarter-final defeat came against France at Euro 2000 (1-2). Each time Spain have won their quarter-final they have gone on to lift the trophy.
With AFP and Uefa inputs