Two sides looking to secure their first victory of the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League at the second attempt will meet on Sunday as Switzerland face off against Germany at St. Jakob-Park in Group A4.
Switzerland kicked off their campaign with a 2-1 defeat to Ukraine, while Germany suffered last-minute heartbreak against Spain as they were forced to settle for a draw on Thursday evening.
Andriy Yarmolenko’s backheel gave the hosts the lead after just 14 minutes before Haris Seferovic lashed in the equaliser for Switzerland just before half time, but it would be another Premier League Ukrainian who would decide the game as Oleksandr Zinchenko’s delightful curler condemned Switzerland to defeat.
Vladimir Petkovic’s men would have no doubt felt that a clash with Ukraine possibly represents their most winnable game of the group stage, but there is still plenty of time for Switzerland to turn their fortunes around despite the calibre of their opponents.
Petkovic’s side were just pipped to third place in the 2018-19 edition as they lost to England in a penalty shootout, although it would take something quite spectacular for Switzerland to top the group and advance to the finals this time around.
With both teams missing some key players, Al Hain-Cole expects Die Mannschaft’s superior squad depth to prove decisive against Petkovic’s men
Germany remain in the hunt for their first ever Nations League victory when they travel to Basel to take on Switzerland on Sunday.
Die Mannschaft conceded a 95th-minute equaliser two draw 1-1 at home to Spain on Thursday, their third stalemate in five winless matches in this competition.
Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Manuel Neuer, Serge Gnabry, Lukas Klostermann and Marcel Halstenberg are all missing due to their involvement in the latter stages of the Champions League, although Bayern’s Niklas Sule and Leroy Sane plus PSG duo Thilo Kehrer and Julian Draxler are included.
Xherdan Shaqiri, Fabian Schar, Remo Freuler, Denis Zakaria, Admir Mehmedi and Cedric Itten are all absent due to injury, while Edimilson Fernandes is in quarantine.
With such a congested summer break and quarantine measures causing havoc, these Nations League fixtures are taking place without a number of high profile players in almost every game.
While this is also true for Joachim Low’s team, the talent pool available to him is so deep that he can still afford to leave someone like rising star Kai Havertz on the bench for Thursday’s draw with Spain.
In contrast, the Nati looked desperately short of inspiration in Thursday’s defeat in Lviv against a modest Ukraine side also missing a number of first team regulars.
Switzerland boast 10 Bundesliga players in total, with Akanji (Borussia Dortmund), Kevin Mbabu and Renato Steffen (Wolfsburg), Steven Zuber and Djibril Sow (Eintracht Frankfurt) and Ruben Vargas (Augsburg) joining a four-man Borussia Mönchengladbach contingent in Vladimir Petkovic’s squad. Gladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer – who made a Bundesliga-high 126 saves in 2019/20 – and defensive pair Nico Elvedi and Michael Lang are expected to start. Former Foal Granit Xhaka – now of Arsenal – captains the side, while Ricardo Rodriguez, a 2015 DFB Cup and Supercup winner during his time at Wolfsburg – should begin the contest at left wing-back. Gladbach enforcer Denis Zakaria and Wolfsburg forward Admir Mehmedi are not included, however, as Die Nati look to bounce back from a 2-1 defeat to Ukraine in their Nations League opener. Former Frankfurt striker Haris Seferovic was on target in Lviv.
Germany took a point from their meeting with Spain in Stuttgart. Former RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner appeared to have put the four-time world champions on course for victory, only for Jose Gaya to level deep into stoppage time. Sane should continue in attack after making his second competitive appearance of the calendar year, but Bayern Munich teammates Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich and Manuel Neuer are all rested following the exertions of their treble-winning campaign. Dortmund’s Julian Brandt could come in for his 32nd cap at the expense of Schalke-reared attacker Julian Draxler, after producing seven goals and 33 assists at club level across 2019/20. Kai Havertz is no longer with the squad as he has been given personal leave to complete a potential transfer from Bayer Leverkusen. The 20-year-old, who made his Germany debut in September 2018, was deployed as a midfielder and out-and-out forward for Leverkusen last term, helping himself to 10 goals and five assists during the second half of the season alone.