Euro 2020: France face tricky Switzerland; Croatia seek inspiration against Spain

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Karim Benzema (PC: Al Jazeera)

Bucharest: Despite a scratchy performance in the group stages, France will have their work cut out as they take on Switzerland in the Euro 2020 Round of 16 clash at Arena Națională on Monday. The reigning World champions are quite determined to win this title as their golden generation missed it by a fraction in 2016.

France’s performance in the group stages were quite decent but not satisfactory considering the kind of quality they possess. Les Blues won just once out of their three matches but managed to claim the top spot in Group F.

The absence of both left-backs Lucas Digne and Lucas Hernandez and forward Ousmane Dembele through injury can be a concern for Didier Deschamps however, he has good depth at his tank. They need the most of the splendid duo of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté against such a tricky opponent.

Switzerland though had to work their way up to this game with a 3-1 win over Turkey in the last group tie. Xherdan Shaqiri, who found the net last time will be a key man against such a formidable opponent. The side have good ability while going on the counters with players like Remo Freuler and Ricardo Rodriguez providing the quality. However, it’s their defence that need most careful considering the sheer quality of the opposing forward line.

In the other game of the day, Croatia will lock horns against former champions Spain at the  Parken Stadium in Copenhagen. Croatia after a disappointing start returned to their groove with a 3-1 win over Scotland in the last game while Spain rout Slovakia 5-0 at home.

Croatia suffered a setback after Ivan Perisic testing positive for the COVID-19. He will miss the match and will have to self-isolate himself for 10 days while the rest of the squad and coaching staff tested negative.

Luka Modric at the age of 35 years is still the man to go for Zlatko Dalić’s side. Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic will have to step up helping their talismanic skipper in the middle of the park whereas Bruno Petkovic and Ante Rebic need to find the net early in the game to give their side an edge.

For Spain, the main concern is the form of striker Alvaro Morata. It will be interesting to see whether coach Luis Enrique makes tactical changes to bring in Gerard Moreno who is more of a target man playing upfront. Pedri showing no signs of nerves despite his tender age and will line himself alongside another young gun Ferran Torres. However, considering the sheer spirit Croatia can show in these crunch games, Spain have to control the tempo through their midfield in order to give themselves a chance.

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