So our glorious nation sits atop Group G of the Euro 2012 qualifiers, back where we belong at the absolute peak of quality football. Surely a simple win against minnows Switzerland will put us well on the trail to win the group and qualification for the Championships. Surely?
Probably not. A 4-0 win against Bulgaria does not mean that England have ‘turned it around’ after their shambolic World Cup campaign. For one, Bulgaria aren’t a good side. They lost out to Ireland in the race for a playoff spot in qualification for the World Cup, losing 4-1 in Cyprus along the way. Since then, Dimitar Berbatov, the country’s all-time top goalscorer, has retired from international football: and Bulgaria were left to use City reject Valeri Bojinov as a lone striker on Friday night.
Next up, Switzerland are good. Ottmar Hitzfeld has two Champions League wins under his belt, with Dortmund in 1997 and Bayern Munich in 2001, and has Switzerland playing a very tight 4-4-2 that is difficult to break down. Spain, generally accepted to be the best international attacking side going (not to mention current world champions, of course) didn’t manage to break them down in their 1-0 opening game loss at the World Cup. Switzerland conceded only once, against Chile, in their three World Cup games in South Africa.
Top scorer Alex Frei is a constant goal threat, and they have a bit of flair in midfield from Bayer Leverkusen’s Tranquillo Barnetta. But I wouldn’t expect flair football from Switzerland. I would expect a very frustrating time for England in Basel. Between them, the two sides scored just four goals in seven games between them. That, combined with the fact that my high-ranking source in Swiss weather forecasting says it’s going to piss it down, would lead me to suggest that this won’t be a classic. I don’t think there’ll be goals, either. 0-0.
Fancy throwing out a score prediction? Tell me I’m wrong.
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