In his latest column for EURO 2020, the former midfielder praises the courage of Spain's conviction but warns that patience may be required against a Switzerland team with a striker in "red-hot form".
For me the most impressive thing about this set of Spain players is how they have overcome all the obstacles put in front of them from day one. It is quite remarkable the way they have bounced back, showing their mental strength and capabilities to follow Luis Enrique's game plan with the utmost conviction.
The victory over Croatia was, in my opinion, Spain's best game at EURO 2020 in terms of overall performance, but you cannot take anything for granted. If you rest on your laurels then you will be in trouble, and I do not think Spain will be doing that.
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To go really far in a tournament you need to keep things tight at the back and the next thing for Spain is to ensure that they keep sides out. They have found their shooting boots and now it is time to ensure the other end is taken care of.
Haris Seferović, who was outstanding against France, is a great player both with his feet and in the air. Against Poland and Croatia we saw that Spain need to improve when it comes to dealing with crosses and that will be a big challenge for the back line against a player of his calibre in red-hot form.
Spain will not change their playing style, but Switzerland are a side who are more comfortable without the ball than Croatia. I think we will see a similarly tight affair to the early group stage games with Sweden and Poland.
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Vladimir Petković's boys showed against France they can keep a side at arm's length when not in possession. So I think it’s a matter of making the ball move quickly, making them run and trying to tire them out, moving them from one side to another, taking advantage of any of the spaces they leave at the back.
Switzerland take on Spain in the UEFA EURO 2020 quarter-final in Saint Petersburg on Friday 2 July at 18:00 CET.
What's the story?
"What a match! What an evening of football," said goalkeeper Yann Sommer after saving Kylian Mbappé's penalty to win Switzerland's round of 16 shoot-out against France; their first win at a knockout tournament since the 1938 FIFA World Cup, and the greatest night in Swiss footballing history. Vladimir Petković's had apologised for his side's performance after their 3-0 group stage loss to Italy; after their 3-3 draw against Les Bleus in Bucharest, they can do no wrong.
Switzerland vs Spain: who will reach the semi-finals? 🤔
Spain played with fire in the round of 16, letting a 3-1 lead slip against Croatia before finally finishing off Zlatko Dalić's side in extra time. Luis Enrique's squad started off the group stage with two draws, but have hit a stride of sorts, becoming the first side to score five goals in back-to-back EURO finals games. Confidence is building, but Sergio Busquets will remember that when Spain last met the Swiss at a final tournament, they lost 1-0 in their 2010 World Cup opener in Durban.
When Switzerland and Spain met last year
Where to watch the game on TV
Fans can find their local UEFA EURO 2020 broadcast partner(s) here.
Switzerland: Sommer; Elvedi, Akanji, Rodríguez; Widmer, Freuler, Zakaria, Zuber; Shaqiri; Embolo, Seferović
Misses next match if booked: Akanji, Elvedi, Embolo, Gavranović, Mbabu, Rodríguez, Schär
Spain: Unai Simón; Azpilicueta, Eric García, Laporte, Alba; Koke, Busquets, Pedri; Sarabia, Morata, Ferran Torres
Misses next match if booked: Jordi Alba, Busquets, Pau Torres, Rodri
Vieri Capretta, Switzerland reporter: History has been made, but history never stops being made. Switzerland want to get to Wembley and after eliminating the world champions, they have every right to keep believing. Vladimir Petković has hit on a great system and starting XI and (though captain Granit Xhaka is suspended) his side will have a similar outlook as they take on Spain: play to Switzerland's strengths and make the most of Spain's weaknesses.
Watch Morata's extra-time stunner for Spain
Graham Hunter, Spain reporter: Even a Spain side capable of ten goals in their last two matches will not look on Switzerland as straightforward quarter-final rivals. Their two recent Nations League meetings were intensely tight with a 1-1 draw in Basel and a 1-0 win for Spain a month earlier in October 2020. The two previous results? A 1-1 friendly draw and that infamous 1-0 Switzerland win at the 2010 World Cup. Is this a irresistible force vs immovable object match? Do penalties loom?
View from the camps
Vladimir Petković, Switzerland coach: "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. We need to show our hunger on the pitch and I'm confident they will. We will miss a player like Xhaka a lot but what I want to see against Spain is that everyone gives a little more, not just to replace him but also to beat Spain. We want to progress, with all the respect for the opponent. Xhaka will take a different role but everyone in the squad will support and help the team."
Watch Swiss celebrate shoot-out win
Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland midfielder: "I am very proud to lead the team in such an important match, and I want to show my skills and help the team. We have shown that we don't only defend and can score more than one goal. If we show our football on the pitch, everything is possible. It doesn't mean I have had a bad game if I don't score or provide an assist, as I help out a lot defensively and that is important for the team."
Luis Enrique, Spain coach: "It's going to be a very complicated match. As a group, for how they attack and defend, they are a very good team and I predict a very difficult game for us ... I expect very similar tactics from what Mr Petković used against us in the Nations League. They are opponents that don't gamble on throwing everything at you, that know exactly what they are doing. They attack and defend well, they play really well as a team and they make matches difficult for their opponent."
Simón: 'You have to enjoy fixing mistakes'
Aymeric Laporte, Spain defender: "I don't think we defended badly against Croatia. Obviously there were things we could have done better. We rewatched it looking for specifics. You mention letting in three goals, but one of them was our own error – nothing we can do to prevent that. One of their other goals was terrific – just like we did brilliantly in ours! That's football. The key lies in our specific, well-defined style of play. We've developed it and once we have begun to score goals, we simply have to follow that line of performance."
Unai Simón, Spain goalkeeper: "The quarter-final is down to us, not our opponents. 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."
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