Mark O’Haire’s Euro 2016 Qualifer Tips – England v Switzerland
England v Switzerland
England are the only side to hold a 100% record in Euro 2016 qualifying and the Three Lions have already booked their place in France next summer with three games to spare.
England v Switzerland, Tuesday 8 September 2015 7.45pm, ITV 1
Head coach Roy Hodgson admits he can now afford to experiment in England’s final Group E games which start with Switzerland at Wembley on Tuesday night.
The 6-0 walloping handed out to San Marino on Saturday guaranteed the Three Lions would be playing major tournament football in 2016 and bar the defence of their unblemished record and Wayne Rooney’s pursuit to become England’s all-time top goalscorer, there’s little else left for home supporters to get excited about.
Rooney’s one goal away from bettering Sir Bobby Charlton’s 49-goal haul and the Manchester United marksman will be the main attraction in the home ranks. Rooney’s netted in each of his last five competitive outings at Wembley and is likely to be well backed at 20/21 to complete the feat by scoring on Tuesday evening.
England tend to be smooth operators in qualification. Since that dreaded 3-2 home loss to Croatia that saw their hopes of qualification for Euro 2008 ended, the Three Lions have W14-D3-L0 in meaningful matches at Wembley. In fact, more recently they’ve returned seven successive wins whilst racking up 27 goals in the process.
You have to go back to October 2010, a full 21 matches, for the last time the hosts failed to net on home soil in a qualifying fixture and having leaked only three times in nine competitive encounters in the capital, Woy’s Boys have proven just as adept at keeping the goals out as hacking up in attack.
However, Hodgson, who coached Switzerland from 1992 to 1995, is wary of a Switzerland side coming off a remarkable win against Slovenia. Vladimir Petkovic’s men trailed 2-0 with 10 minutes remaining in Saturday’s contest at St-Jakob Park, but Josip Drmic and Valentin Stocker netted two goals in four minutes to tie things up before the former completed the turnaround deep into injury time.
Defeat would have seen Slovenia move level with Switzerland on 12 points in the battle for the second place behind England. Instead Petkovic’s side now lead third-placed Estonia by five points and Slovenia by six. The Swiss are understandably high-on-life after that result which has effectively booked their ticket to France too.
That victory means, even allowing for a defeat against England, the Swiss are certain to move to 18 points with a home game against San Marino to come, which would mean that third-placed Estonia would need to win their last three qualifiers away to Slovenia, England, and at home to the Swiss to pinch second. So whilst La Nati have yet to book their flights for Euro 2016, they’ll be on the plane.
Switzerland have endured a difficult year since their World Cup excursions in Brazil with road results particularly uninspiring – Petkovic’s men struggled past Lithuania 2-1 and were beaten in Slovenia. And although the visitors are eager to spoil Rooney’s party, the odds are a little too generous in England’s favour here.
The bookmakers have chalked up the Three Lions at 8/11 and you can be absolutely certain the hosts would have been much much shorter had qualification remained up in the air. The Swiss aren’t mathematically certain to finish in the top-two but they’re as good as there; there’ll be relaxed, buoyant but hardly hell-bent on succeeding.
England haven’t lost to the Swiss for 34 years, eased to victory in the away tie and should be good enough to preserve their winning run at 8/11.
But we’ll add in Rooney to score in a Three Lions victory, just because. It’s a handsome 13/10 play in the Score/Win double market.
And finally, I do like the idea of backing the Swiss to score. They’re an offensive outfit epitomised by marauding full-backs Stephan Lichtsteiner and Ricardo Rodríguez. Throw in Xherdan Shaqiri’s magic and the menace from Drmic and Stocker and the visitors are more than capable of getting a goal in a Wembley defeat – England to win and Both Teams To Score can be backed at 16/5.
England To Win @ 8/11
England To Win And Wayne Rooney To Score @ 13/10
England To Win And Both Teams To Score @ 16/5
*Prices correct at time of publication