Monday, July 15, 2024

Italy face Switzerland in first knockout


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Berlin, June 28: Defending champion Italy aims to continue its dominance over Switzerland to reach the quarterfinals of the European Championship on Saturday.
Switzerland hasn’t beaten Italy for 31 years and has only eight wins from their previous 61 meetings.
But the Swiss are unbeaten so far this year and their only loss in 2023 came in the last game of qualifying.
Italy has fond memories of playing at Berlin’s Olympiastadion after beating France on penalties in the 2006 World Cup final in its last game in the stadium, where it also defeated Austria 2-1 in the final of the 1936 Olympic Games.
So far, Euro 2024 has been a difficult experience for the Azzuri, conceding after just 23 seconds in its opening 2-1 win over Albania, then being thoroughly outclassed in a 1-0 defeat to Spain, before it needed a last-second strike from Italy substitute Mattia Zaccagni to salvage a 1-1 draw against Croatia to finish runner-up in Group B.
Switzerland opened with a 3-1 win over Hungary before 1-1 draws against Scotland and host nation Germany.Switzerland and Italy faced each other in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. They drew both games and the Swiss finished top of the group to qualify. Italy lost to North Macedonia in the playoffs and missed out. It was the Italians’ second successive failure to qualify for the World Cup.
Switzerland players Yann Sommer, Ricardo Rodríguez, Remo Freuler, Noah Okafor, Michel Aebischer, Dan Ndoye, Dennis Zakaria, Silvan Widmer and Xherdan Shaqiri have all played in Italy’s Serie A.
In contrast, defender Federico Dimarco is the only member of Italy’s squad to have played in Switzerland, spending one season at Sion in 2017-18.
The winner will face England or Slovakia in the quarterfinals in Düsseldorf on July 6.
Team news- Neither team had any major injury worries before Friday’s pre-match news conferences.
By the numbers- Switzerland failed to progress beyond the group stage in its first three European Championship appearances, but it has since reached the knockout stage in each of it last three tournaments.
Italy has always scored in its previous six matches at the Olympiastadion.
Switzerland has won only one of its four penalty shootouts at a World Cup or Euros, while Italy became the first team to win more than one at the same European Championship in the last edition. Italy defeated 3-2 England on penalties to win Euro 2020.
What they’re saying”No team is happy to play against Italy because we have a footballing history. We are reigning champions and it is never easy to play against us.”
“It definitely makes it a bit more special because we know the players, the country and the football culture that they have.
Ultimately, it’s the round of 16 and we want to win, regardless of which country we face.” – Switzerland midfielder Michel Aebischer. (AP)


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