Sunday, July 21, 2024

Misfiring England face in-form Switzerland for semifinal spot


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Duesseldorf, July 5: England will play Switzerland in the quarterfinals of Euro 2024 on Saturday. England faced criticism from fans who thought the team underperformed in its extra-time win over Slovakia, while Switzerland exceeded expectations by knocking out defending champion Italy.
The winner will play either the Netherlands or Turkey in the semifinals. Here’s what to know about the match: Match facts- England is playing its fourth quarterfinal game at a major tournament under manager Gareth Southgate and won two of the previous three. Southgate’s cautious tactics have brought hefty criticism from England fans, some of whom threw plastic cups at him in the group stage.
Jude Bellingham’s last-minute overhead kick to send England’s last-16 game with Slovakia to extra time was one of the most dramatic moments of Euro 2024 so far. Defender John Stones said surviving that brush with elimination gave the team new confidence.
Switzerland coach Murat Yakin has won a reputation for smart tactics at Euro 2024, especially by outclassing an Italy team packed with more famous names in the round of 16.
England is playing two days after a general election ended 14 years of rule by the Conservative Party. It didn’t make waves in the England camp, which Stones called a “politics-free zone.”
Bellingham is under investigation by UEFA after seemingly making a gesture toward his crotch during England’s last game. He has denied he was mocking Slovakia, saying it was an “inside joke gesture towards some close friends who were at the game,” said England defender Marc Guehi is suspended after picking up a second booking against Slovakia.
Ezri Konsa, who came off the bench in extra time in that game, is the favorite to replace him in the center of defense alongside Stones.
Stones wore heavy strapping on his right knee in training Wednesday but said Thursday he’s fit to play.
Bellingham, forward Phil Foden and full back Kieran Trippier are among five England players who would miss the semifinals if booked against Switzerland. Captain Granit Xhaka is one of four Swiss players in the same situation.Southgate is marking his 100th game in charge and it could be his last. His contract expires after the tournament.
Switzerland hasn’t beaten England for 43 years. Harry Kane scored the winning goal when England had a comeback 2-1 win the last time they played in a 2022 friendly.It’s only the third time the Swiss team is playing in the quarterfinals of a major tournament. It has yet to reach a semifinal. A penalty-shootout loss to Spain in the quarterfinals of Euro 2020 was its best European Championship showing.
What they’re saying- “The other night, I thought we were going home after 60 minutes of the game. To change the mindset of us all and keep that belief and faith, it’s got a lot of power behind that for ourselves, other teams. Everyone watching at home knows that we’re there to do it right until the last minute, literally. And, I think we should take great confidence from that,” said England defender John Stones.Kickoff at 9:30 pm IST. (AP)


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