Spain will look to take another step closer to glory on Friday, when they face Switzerland in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020. Having made a slow start to the tournament La Roja has undergone a revival in its last two games, although players and supporters alike will be hoping Friday’s game is a little less eventful than the chaotic 5-3 defeat of Croatia in the round of 16. That victory was Spain’s first in a knockout fixture since 2012, and having put in a vintage attacking performance, there is every reason to be optimistic about their chances. Should Luis Enrique’s side win, Belgium or Italy await in the semi-final.
Once again, Luis Enrique has a full compliment of players to choose from, and this may come in handy given the physical exertions of Monday evening. Offensively Spain brought their A-game against Croatia, so we’d be surprised to see many changes to the attacking personnel.
After putting in a good performance and silencing his critics with a crucial extra-time goal, Alvaro Morata is a sure bet to start up top, as is Pablo Sarabia, who was excellent. There is a growing concern that Pedri will at some point suffer burn-out (he’s played 58 games and counting for club and country in 2020/21), but if he is able, he has to start. Sergio Busquets has been near-flawless since his recovery from Covid-19, although there could be an argument for Rodri starting against the Swiss. While Busquets offers much more in an attacking and ball progression sense, Rodri is a more physical presence. Switzerland aerially dominated France’s rear guard in the closing stages of Monday’s 3-3 draw, so from set pieces, Rodri might offer more protection.
Not to jinx it, but every time that Spain have won a Euros quarter-final, they’ve gone on to lift the trophy.
Here’s our predicted starting XI:
The character and determination that Switzerland showed against France was mightily impressive, and something that Spain should not underestimate. Four minutes after Ricardo Rodriguez missed a penalty that would’ve put them 2-0 up, the Swiss found themselves 1-2 down, and soon after Paul Pogba looked to have put the result beyond doubt with a third. To their credit Vladimir Petkovic’s side rallied, and the bombardment of a shaky French back line yielded two late goals to force extra-time. Triumph in the penalty shootout was no less than they deserved. A big miss for the Swiss in this match, however, will be the absence of Granit Xhaka. The Arsenal forward is the only player suspended for any of the quarterfinals. Xhaka has been one of the very best midfielders in this tournament and his loss will be huge.
Haris Seferovic scored two brilliant headers for the Swiss, but France’s defending left a lot to be desired. Spain looked similarly shaky defending crosses against Croatia, so this could be a prime area for Switzerland to exploit. They may have lost 16 of their last 22 meetings with Spain, but Switzerland will be no easy pushover.
If Spain approach this game with the same attacking vigour and inventiveness as their previous two games, then they will score at least a couple. Yet given the defensive fragility exploited by Croatia, the question remains of whether Switzerland will be able to do the same. We reckon this will be another high-scoring contest, so we’re predicting that Spain will win 3-2 and advance to the final four.