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Aaron Ramsey will be one of the players Wales look to this afternoon
Aaron Ramsey will be one of the players Wales look to this afternoon

Group A: Wales vs Switzerland, kick-off 2pm (UK time, BBC1)

Group F has been billed as the ‘group of death’ at Euro 2020 — but Group A is arguably just as competitive.

Italy, Switzerland and Wales are separated by just 10 places in the FIFA rankings, while Turkey have looked impressive in recent months and find themselves inside the top 30.

Wales begin their Euro 2020 campaign against the Swiss this afternoon. 

The opener is never a must-win match but a defeat would give the losing side a mountain to climb if they are to progress.

One winner

Surprisingly, there has never been a draw between these two teams in the seven times they have faced each other. 

Switzerland lead the way with five wins, with their last coming in 2010 — an emphatic 4-1 victory during Euro 2012 qualifying.

The last clash between the two was in 2011, when Wales claimed a 2-0 win with goals from Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey. Both are expected to start the opener for Rob Page’s side.

The right-back conundrum

Neco Williams enjoyed getting high up the pitch on the right side for Liverpool last season
Neco Williams enjoyed getting high up the pitch on the right side for Liverpool last season

There are not many question marks heading into this particular game over team selection. 

Fans and pundits alike all seem fairly unanimous in their predicted XIs for Wales, with the exception of right-back.

Liverpool’s Neco Williams has impressed in recent friendlies, almost man-marking Paul Pogba out of the game before his harsh dismissal against France.

In the eyes of many, he has done enough to get the nod on the right side of defence.

However, the performances produced by Connor Roberts for Swansea in 2020-21 did not go unnoticed.

The 25-year-old, who finished with five goals and seven assists in the Championship, has form and momentum on his side.

It will be a big decision for Page — and one he cannot afford to get wrong.

Patience will be key

Neither of these sides are gung-ho in their approach.

Vladimir Petkovic is often described as meticulous and his mantra seems to be that if you do not concede, you cannot lose.

Granit Xhaka and Ricardo Rodriguez are usually tasked with patrolling the area ahead of the centre-backs and Switzerland look to play on the break, with the likes of Breel Embolo, Xherdan Shaqiri and Ruben Vargas all dangerous when there is space to attack.

Wales adopt a similar approach.

They have kept three clean sheets in their last four outings, with France being the only team to get on the scoresheet, and all three of their goals arrived after Williams’ red card.

They like to keep it tight and are rigid in their system but have plenty of attacking outlets in the shape of Bale, Daniel James and Kieffer Moore.

Granit Xhaka can provide an effective screen in front of the Swiss defence against Wales
Granit Xhaka can provide an effective screen in front of the Swiss defence against Wales

Battle of the youth

Wales have the third youngest squad at the tournament and Switzerland have the sixth.

This freshness, combined with their relative inexperience at this level, gives these teams a fearlessness that could stand them in good stead as the tournament progresses.

It will also likely be a big factor late on in games.

In what was a condensed 2020-21 campaign, having relatively fresh legs in certain situations will be a huge advantage to both of these countries.

It could even play a part today.

The Ramsey risk

Ramsey could be the ace in Page’s pack.

On his day, the 30-year-old is one of the best midfielders in Europe and it was his two goals in the win over Hungary that sealed qualification for Euro 2020.

However, injuries have meant he has featured in just 19 of Wales’ 44 matches since Euro 2016 and he has only racked up 2,140 minutes of Serie A action since moving to Juventus two years ago.

There are no guarantees he is robust enough to last the distance but gambling on his involvement could be an inspired choice.

With all Swiss eyes likely focused on Bale, Ramsey could be the difference this afternoon.

Tags

SwitzerlandWalesEuropean Championship

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