Spain earned a narrow win against Switzerland when the nations met last month | Soccrates Images/Getty Images
Switzerland host Spain in their penultimate Nations League fixture of the group stage on Saturday evening, in a match which could see the home side relegated.
In Vladimir Petkovic’s six-year reign in charge of the Swiss national team, his side have never endured as long a wait for a win as the six game drought they are currently in the midst of. Having reached the knockout stage of last year’s inaugural Nations League, Switzerland are guaranteed bottom of their group this season if they lose on Saturday.
Switzerland lost to England in last season’s Nations League third-place playoff | TF-Images/Getty Images
Spain, on the other hand, top the standings of League A’s competitive Group 4, sitting one point above Germany and Ukraine who meet each other at the same time.
When Is Kick Off? Saturday 14 November
What Time Is Kick Off? 19:45 (GMT)
Where Is it Played? St. Jakob-Park
TV Channel/Live Stream? Sky Sports Red Button (UK), fuboTV (US)
Referee? William Collum
Spain’s Jose Gaya was forced off with a head injury against the Netherlands | Soccrates Images/Getty Images
Switzerland appear to have escaped their friendly against Belgium largely unscathed as Petkovic rung the changes at half time, resting the likes of Granit Xhaka and Breel Embolo perhaps with Saturday’s clash in mind.
The Swiss national team’s official website revealed on Tuesday that Nice defender Jordan Lotomba and a member of medical staff had tested positive for COVID-19 and are in isolation without any symptoms. Newcastle’s Fabian Schar will also miss out after picking up a red card against Germany in their previous fixture in the competition.
While Spain’s rather drab draw with Netherlands in midweek allowed Luis Enrique to experiment with some of the fringe players in his squad, it also provided an injury scare for left-back Jose Gaya who was forced off after a clash of heads with Hans Hateboer in the first half.
Spain: De Gea; Roberto, Ramos, Pau Torres, Reguilon; Koke, Busquets, Ruiz; Traore, Morata, Olmo.
Switzerland: Sommer; Akanja, Elvedi, Rodriguez; Widmer, Xhaka, Sow, Zuber; Shaqiri; Seferovic, Embolo.
Switzerland may be in the midst of a dire run of form but they can still boast an impressive home record – they go into Saturday’s fixture unbeaten in their last 17 competitive matches on Swiss soil, winning 14 of them.
Vladimir Petkovic is yet to oversee a victory for Switzerland in 2020 | John Berry/Getty Images
Petkovic and his side will be consigned to League B (if this tournament survives another season) if they fail record at least a point against Spain as they trail Ukraine and Germany by four points. The Swiss meet Ukraine on Tuesday and could have their future in their own hands if Germany do them a favour and get a result against Andriy Shevchenko’s side.
Spain’s loss to those yellow-shirted opponents last month was their first defeat in any setting since losing to Croatia in November 2018 in last season’s iteration of the Nations League.
Here’s how each side has fared in their last five outings.
Belgium 2-1 Switzerland (11/11)
Germany 3-3 Switzerland (13/10)
Spain 1-0 Switzerland (10/10)
Switzerland 1-2 Croatia (7/10)
Switzerland 1-1 Germany (6/9)
Netherlands 1-1 Spain (11/11)
Ukraine 1-0 Spain (13/10)
Spain 1-0 Switzerland (10/10)
Portugal 0-0 Spain (7/10)
Spain 4-0 Ukraine (6/9)
Luis Enrique is in his second spell as Spain’s national team manager | ANP Sport/Getty Images
When Enrique’s side ensure their potent high press is well coordinated, few have been able to stop them. Switzerland saw this first hand when they met in October, going 1-0 down after goalkeeper Yann Sommer was forced into a wayward pass with a flock of red shirts bearing down upon him.
However, in a fixture list as congested as this season’s, La Roja have shown signs of tiring as the match wears on. Just as the Netherlands enjoyed a much better second half performance in midweek as Spain’s press became less intense, Switzerland can exploit these tired limbs.
But Petkovic’s side can only do this if they don’t also succumb to fatigue and are still in the contest, both of which are sizeable caveats.
Prediction: Switzerland 1-2 Spain