Spain walks on the wire in Geneva

Luis Enrique gives instructions from the band. / David W Cerny (Reuters)

League of Nations

La Roja is forced to raise its head against Switzerland so as not to stir up the hornet's nest in the League of Nations

Oscar Bellot

OSCAR BELLOT Special envoy to Geneva

The Spanish team is obliged to raise its head in the League of Nations. Ties recorded at home
against Portugal already home
against the Czech Republic They have put the path towards next year's 'final four' uphill for Luis Enrique's team, which is walking on the wire in Geneva. A new setback against Switzerland, bottom of the group that seeks to release its points locker after succumbing in the first two days, would stir up the hornet's nest when there is little more than five months left before the curtain rises on the Qatar World Cup, the tournament in which All hopes are pinned on a bloc that offers its best version at banquets that require evening dress, but which all too often gets indigestible at the buffets it eats in hotels that are not five-star.

Neutralized at the last minute by the Iberian neighbor in a match played at the Benito Villamarín that was well on track with Morata's goal, and gripped in Prague by a Czech Republic that knew how to press its vulnerabilities to the point of caressing the victory that Iñigo denied Martínez at the horn, the Spanish team needs to give a blow of authority on the shores of Lake Leman to beat the Portuguese and the Czechs, co-leaders with four points, two more than Luis Enrique's battalion. Because, as the Asturian strategist recalled as soon as the litigation held on Sunday at the Sinobo Stadium concluded, despite everything, Spain continues to depend on itself and intends to continue "taking the lead."

To do this, it will have to overcome Switzerland, which is also running with a seized engine. Defensive failures condemned her against the Czech Republic and Portugal thrashed her in Lisbon. However, the Swiss team is usually a toothache for Spain.

They have met 23 times since the two countries met for the first time in a friendly that took place at the Neufels stadium in Bern in June 1925 and which was resolved in favor of the Spanish side with a hat-trick by Juan Errazquin, striker for Real Irún Union that could not have had a better baptism as an international. And it is true that the balance is very favorable for the representative of the bull skin, who has scored sixteen victories and conceded a single defeat: the one that opened with agony a World Cup in South Africa that ended in ecstasy. But it is no less so that a good part of those triumphs were produced by the minimum and after sweating the fat drop.

Luis Enrique defends Eric García:

A trend that has worsened in the last four years. It is that period of time, Spain has drawn tables with its opponent this Thursday on two occasions, beat it in a pyrrhic way in October 2020 and had to hold on to its best performance from eleven meters to validate the pass to the semifinals of the last Eurocup in the penalty shootout that agreed the goals of Zakaria, an own goal after a shot by Jordi Alba, and Shaqiri.

Switzerland finds its way

The veteran attacker of Balkan origin, who last February left the ranks of Olympique de Lyon to land in the MLS, continues to be one of the best-known faces of the team supervised by Murat Yakin, who took over from Vladimir Petkovic in the completion of the multi-site European. A powerful central defender and positional midfielder during his time as a footballer, Murat was capped 49 times by Switzerland and shared a dressing room with his brother Hakan in both the Swiss team and Basel. In 2006 he hung up his boots to start a career on the bench that has taken him to coach Lucerna, Basel, Spartak Moscow or Grasshoppers, among other teams, before taking the reins of the 'nati'.

Before him is the challenge of doing well in the World Cup in Qatar, where the Xhaka, Embolo, Zakaria or Seferovic will try to maintain the good competitive tone that allowed the Swiss to shine in the European Championship, where they gave the bell against France in the round of 16 , and smoothly seal the pass to the World Cup to be played in the fall. But their poor start in this third edition of the League of Nations has filled Switzerland with doubts. As in Spain.

Luis Enrique, who changed eight cards in Prague compared to the eleven with which he uncorked the pulse against Portugal, will try to silence them with more rotations in sight. Azpilicueta and Jordi Alba could regain their place on the wings, Busquets will once again take the helm in midfield and Asensio is looking for an opportunity to start at the top, after his good performance in the Czech capital.

Likely lineups

  • Swiss:
    Kobel, Widmer, Schär, Elvedi, Ricardo Rodríguez, Sow, Xhaka, Shaqiri, Freuler, Okafor and Embolo.

  • Spain:
    Unai Simón, Azpilicueta, Eric García, Pau Torres, Jordi Alba, Busquets, Soler, Gavi, Asensio, Morata and Ferran Torres.

  • Referee:
    Serdar Gözübüyük (The Netherlands).

  • Hour:
    8:45 p.m.

  • Stadium:
    Stade de Geneva.

  • TV:
    The1.

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