Euro 2020, Wales vs Switzerland: 3 key battles to watch out for in WAL vs SUI: Wales begin their Euro 2020 adventure against Switzerland at the Olympic Stadium in Baku on Saturday. The teams have been seeded alongside Turkey and Italy in Group A and will be looking to get off to a positive start.
After being the surprise element of the previous edition of the Euros, Wales will know it will be difficult to replicate their semi-final appearance again this summer. The Dragons are expected to have their task cut out in what feels like a competitive Group A.
Switzerland, on the other hand, will fancy their chances on Saturday considering they are on a six-game winning streak. La Nati have never progressed beyond the round of 16 at the Euros, but will be hoping to do better this time around.
Without further delay, let’s take a closer look at the three key battles that could define the game on Saturday.
Euro 2020, Wales vs Switzerland: 3 key battles to watch out for in WAL vs SUI:
Euro 2020, Wales vs Switzerland: Key Battle 1
Gareth Bale vs Manuel Akanji
Bale is expected to become part of the front-three for Wales and could potentially face a daunting challenge in terms of getting past the Switzerland defence marshalled by Akanji.
The Welshman’s impact has waned since Euro 2016 and he is considered a mere shadow of his former self these days. However, he is still a guaranteed starter within this Wales squad.
Whether or not he gets the better of Akanji and company remains to be seen. But it is safe to say Wales will pin plenty of hopes on Bale to get the better of the Swiss defender and provide them a positive start in Group A.
Euro 2020, Wales vs Switzerland: Key Battle 2
Xherdan Shaqiri vs Joe Allen
The former Stoke City teammates will almost definitely be involved in an intense battle in midfield on Saturday. Shaqiri often plays in the hole behind the two strikers in Switzerland’s 3-4-1-2 and if Petkovic retains the same shape, Allen could be tasked with sticking onto him.
Both players were reduced to bit-part roles at club level last season and are in need of a strong display at the Euros to try and win back attention. Allen likes to sit back and dictate terms in midfield, but with the threat of Shaqiri looming large, he may end up doing the chasing and hustling and harrying throughout the 90 minutes.
Euro 2020, Wales vs Switzerland: Key Battle 3
Mario Gavranovic vs Joe Rodon
Gavranovic will shoulder the responsibility of leading the line for Switzerland alongside Haris Seferovic at the Euros. The Dinamo Zagreb striker, who netted 19 goals across all competitions at club level last season, warmed up for the tournament in style with a hat-trick against Liechtenstein.
The 31-year-old is expected to face-off with Tottenham Hotspur talent Joe Rodon on Saturday. Since making the switch to the Premier League last year, Rodon notched up 12 appearances for Spurs.
Although he is still only a newcomer within the Welsh set up with 13 caps at senior level, caretaker manager Rob Page will be hoping he shows maturity beyond his age.