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Euro 2016 Top Trumps: England’s defence spells Basel trouble

| 07.09.2014

Our ever popular top trumps series is back in international action when England travel to Switzerland to kick off their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

It’s bound to be a tight one, with the hosts marginally edging favouritism at 13/8 ahead of the Three Lions at 15/8, while the draw comes in just bigger at 2/1.

World Cup performance: Switzerland 7/ England 4

Roy Hodgson’s men were by no means terrible at the World Cup, but they were beaten by two sides who didn’t make it further than the last 16, which puts England’s standing in international football around where it was in the late 1970s.

Switzerland were by no means world beaters in Brazil, but they found two goals at the crucial time in their opener with Ecuador and matched France’s 3-0 scoreline against Honduras.

Their 5-2 thumping from Les Bleus, which could have been more, wasn’t to Switzerland’s credit, but remaining stubborn for 118 minutes against Argentina in the first knockout round was and keeps them ahead of England by this measure.

Star quality: Switzerland 7/ England 7

Many of the summer’s early transfer whispers were with regard to a Liverpool move for Xherdan Shaqiri, the diminutive Bayern Munich midfield dynamo and heartbeat of Switzerland’s attack.

At Anfield Shaqiri would have shared forward duties with Raheem Sterling, who has been England’s brightest player so far in the Premier League season, with two opening goals in three fixtures.

The supporting cast is reasonably well matched; England have the edge in attack, but their backs were as shaky as ever in midweek, with Norway looking the more threatening immediately prior to England’s winning goal, forcing Joe Hart into two fine saves.

The hosts defensive operators, such as well-regarded pair Fabian Schar and Ricardo Rodriguez, plus midfield anchorman Gokhan Inler, look more solid.

Head-to-head record: Switzerland 3/ England 8

There really is little joy to be had for the hosts based on this metric, with three draws in eight fixtures the best they’ve been able to manage since the early 80s.

One speck of light for Switzerland is that they drew 2-2 in their last clash with the Three Lions at Wembley, prior to being knocked out by Fabio Capello’s men in the race to Euro 2012. The omens are not great for a home win.

Qualifications past: Switzerland 7/ England 7

Over the past decade both these sides have made it to every international tournament bar one Euro championship each, although Switzerland qualified for Euro 2008 courtesy of it being on their own patch.

Each have had their travails; Ottmar Hitzfeld’s Rossocrociati sailed to the top of their World Cup 2014 group while England needed a final day win over Poland to finish first, whereas four years earlier the Swiss were made to scramble for their place following an early loss against Luxembourg.

Coaches: Switzerland 8/ England 6

Hitzfeld’s replacement Vladimir Petkovic looks a shrewd choice, having guided Young Boys to second in the Swiss Super League in 2009/10, before giving Spurs a fright at the subsequent Champions League qualifying stage.

Petkovic’s side went 3-0 up at home before being pegged back over the tie by the north Londoners, and the Sarajevo-born Swiss went on to make further waves with Lazio, where he won the 2012/13 Coppa Italia before rumours of a new posting caused an acrimonious split.

Former Switzerland boss Hodgson may have reached his nadir with his old side at the 1994 World Cup, because the 67-year-old seems bereft of ideas based on his starting setup against Norway, and isn’t likely to change.

Total: Switzerland 32/50 / England 32/50

Suggested bet: Score draw at 18/5

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Alex Fortune