ENGLAND BEWARE

Swiss performance against Italy instils fear in Three Lions line-up

Yakin faced questions about Switzerland's next opponents, but said he was not thinking about that yet.

In Summary

•Now we know the Swiss will play Gareth Southgate’s side in the last eight, and they were far superior to the defending champions in the last 16.

•This was Switzerland’s first win over Italy since 1993 and the first time they have won a knockout game at a major tournament without needing penalties since the 1938 World Cup.

England's Harry Kane
England's Harry Kane
Image: Xinhua

England got past Slovakia to set up a Euro 2024 quarter-final with Switzerland but, on this evidence, their side of the draw is anything but easy.

The Swiss were second-favourites when they lined up against holders Italy in Berlin on Saturday but proceeded to give their neighbours a footballing lesson in pressing intensity and organisation.

As well as energy, there was lots of quality on display from Murat Yakin’s side. Granit Xhaka and Remo Freuler were their driving force in midfield and Ruben Vargas, who claimed a goal and an assist, was inventive and decisive down the left.

On top of those stellar individual performances, it was their overall team display that had the pundits purring and they looked a step or two above anything England have faced in Germany so far.

They were miles better than Italy," former England captain Alan Shearer said on BBC One.

"Switzerland dominated that game. They were absolutely fantastic. They looked really fit and scored two fantastic goals, and they deserve their quarter-final spot."

Now we know the Swiss will play Gareth Southgate’s side in the last eight, and they were far superior to the defending champions in the last 16.

While it is true that Italy put up little resistance and showed few signs of mounting a fightback, Switzerland deserve credit for the way they built their lead and then comfortably saw the game out.

"The confidence and belief in that Swiss team was magnificent,” added former Scotland winger Pat Nevin on Radio 5 Live.

"They played out from the back against a team which was incapable of closing down— Italy did not look fit enough.

"Vargas was really special and I felt sorry for (Italy right wing-back) Giovanni di Lorenzo. He was having a horrible time."

This was Switzerland’s first win over Italy since 1993 and the first time they have won a knockout game at a major tournament without needing penalties since the 1938 World Cup.

They had already threatened a shock in Germany when they came close to beating the hosts in their final group game, and were only denied victory by a 92nd-minute goal.

This time, there was nothing to spoil the party that the Swiss players had with their supporters inside the Olympiastadion at the final whistle.

"We saw the fans afterwards and also in our previous three matches and it really sends a shiver down your spine," Yakin said. "It is hugely gratifying.

"All this support shows we are on the right track and we are doing things the right way. We are in a position we have earned but we are not done yet.

"We sent out an important signal in terms of the game we played. We didn’t only club together and defend as a unit and sit back, in fact, we showed that we could attack and dominate in every area of the pitch."

Yakin faced questions about Switzerland's next opponents but said he was not thinking about that yet. "We are focused on ourselves, we don’t want to be distracted by our opponents."

He was also asked if, like Austria, his side could be the tournament's surprise package and should be considered dark horses in the games to come.

"So much can still happen," he said. "It’s the knockout stage, every game has its own story, every match is decisive, but we have the right shape and we have the right gameplan and we are a good team, we showed that again here.

"But we still need to keep our feet on the ground. We need to make sure that we are humble in our approach because that has underpinned how we have conducted ourselves so far."