Switzerland and Spain go head-to-head in Saint Petersburg on Friday evening to kick-off the Euro 2020 quarter-finals. Mark O'Haire shares his best bet.
"Interestingly, 18 of the Iberians’ 20 victories since the 2018 World Cup arrived alongside Over 1.5 Goals with just two 1-0 triumphs secured in three years"
Switzerland v Spain
Friday July 2, 17:00
Switzerland see-off France in thriller
Switzerland produced a remarkable late comeback in a breathless six-goal thriller to eventually oust Euro 2020 pre-tournament favourites France on penalties on Monday night. Die Nati had been seconds away from elimination during 90 minutes before substitute Mario Gavranovic hammered in a last-minute equaliser to send the game to extra time.
Vladimir Petkovic's side came under plenty of pressure during extra time but held on to take the classic contest in Budapest to spot kicks, where goalkeeper Yann Sommer saved Kylian Mbappe's decisive attempt to secure Switzerland's progress from a major tournament knockout game for the first time since 1938.
Petkovic fielded an unchanged XI from the side that saw off Turkey in Switzerland's final group game. Die Nati are therefore expected to persist with their 3-4-1-2 system with skipper Granit Xhaka anchoring the midfield alongside Remo Freuler with Xherdan Shaqiri operating in the space behind Breel Embolo and Haris Seferovic in attack.
Spain impress against Croatia
Spain reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 in dramatic fashion, beating Croatia 5-3 in extra-time following a pulsating match-up in Copenhagen. La Roja made a rotten start when goalkeeper Unai Simon failed to control Pedri's 49-yard back pass, presenting Croatia with an unexpected and undeserved advantage after only 20 minutes.
However, the Iberians were the superior side before the goal and soon found parity with Pablo Sarabia thumping in an equaliser. Spain reasserted their dominance after half-time with Cesar Azpilicueta heading in a second and Ferran Torres making it 3-1. But Luis Enrique's side were rocked by two goals in the final five minutes to force extra time.
Alvaro Morata silenced his critics when he thumped in Spain's fourth goal in extra time and Mikel Oyarzabal added a fifth to confirm La Roja's progression.
Luis Enrique made two changes from Spain's 5-0 win over Slovakia as Jose Gaya and Ferran Torres were preferred to Jordi Alba and Gerard Moreno. The Spanish boss could look to recall Pau Torres here after a shaky showing from Eric Garcia, whilst Marcos Llorente is also pushing for a start after being left out of the last two matches.
Switzerland and Spain are crossing swords for the fourth time at a major tournament. The Swiss famously upset the odds to overcome Spain in their 2010 World Cup curtain-raiser after losing the previous two match-ups in 1966 and 1994. That 2010 success is actually Die Nati's only victory in 22 meetings with the Iberians (W1-D5-L16) across all competitions.
Switzerland 5.905/1 have lost just once in 11 (W7-D3-L1), although the best sides Vladimir Petkovic's charges has beaten during that spell are Ukraine and Turkey. The Alpine outfit are W2-D8-L7 against elite sides Belgium, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain since the start of Euro 2016 and could be suffering from a slight hangover after Monday's exploits.
Spain 1.748/11 have accumulated the competition's highest Non-Penalty Expected Goals (npxG) in their four fixtures, and have found scoring form since opening their account with back-to-back blanks. Meanwhile, La Roja have now tabled 16 triumphs from 27 games since the start of qualification for this tournament at the beginning of 2019.
The Euro 2020 group-stage produced an eye-catching 2.62 goals per-game and the goals continued to flow in the last-16 with 2.88 goals on average across the six fixtures in regulation time. European Championship quarter-finals historically average 2.29 goals with only 33% breaking the Over 2.5 Goals barrier. A repeat is available at 1.9520/21.
Collectively, seven of the duo's eight outings at Euro 2020 have produced a minimum of two goals with Both Teams To Score 2.001/1 banking on five occasions. With neither side looking particularly watertight thus far, goals could be on the agenda in this Saint Petersburg showdown.
The best approach could be to support Spain to win and Over 1.5 Goals at an attractive 2.001/1 on the Sportsbook. We're effectively supporting Luis Enrique's side to succeed by any scoreline other than 1-0. Interestingly, 18 of the Iberians' 20 victories since the 2018 World Cup arrived alongside Over 1.5 Goals with just two 1-0 triumphs secured in three years.
You can get more insight and tips from Mark on our daily Euros podcast - the latest show, covering Friday's matches, is here
Mark's Euro 2020 Profit/Loss
Staked: 8 pts
Returned: 5.38 pts
P/L: -2.62 pts