Switzerland may not have a history of European Championship success — but they should not be underestimated after a flurry of impressive tournament performances.
The Rossocrociati have punched above their weight in recent World Cups and taken the UEFA Nations League by storm, so will relish their status as one of Euro 2020’s underdogs as they look to surpass expectations once again.
Switzerland have only advanced from the European Championship group stage once, despite featuring in five editions of the competition.
That was back in 2016, when they were eliminated in the round of 16 by Poland on penalties.
But they are developing into a formidable force, reaching the UEFA Nations League semi-finals in 2019 and progressing to the knockout phase in three of the last four World Cups.
The Swiss will have to contend with a challenging group containing Wales, Turkey and Italy but will fancy their chances of progressing.
How they qualified
Switzerland gained entry to Euro 2020 after finishing first in Group D.
They lost just one of their eight qualifiers and earned 17 points, narrowly beating Denmark to top spot.
Their most notable wins came when they faced Gibraltar, thumping the minnows 4-0 and 6-1, while they also beat third-placed Ireland 2-0 in Geneva.
Though no Swiss player was prolific in front of goal, Rangers striker Cedric Itten chipped in with three strikes.
Manager Vladimir Petkovic typically sets up in either a 3-4-1-2 or a 5-4-1 formation, depending on the strength of the opposition.
Alternating the two systems, Switzerland switch between flooding players forward and remaining rigid, compact and tough to break down.
Centre-backs are selected for their ball-playing ability, while Fabian Schar also offers a goal threat having scored eight times in 58 outings for his national side.
Captain Granit Xhaka and Denis Zakaria shield the defensive line and their solidity provides the team’s wing-backs with the opportunity to surge forward and play riskier passes into the final third.
Central striker Haris Seferovic, 29, is often deployed as a targetman who can play fellow attackers Xherdan Shaqiri and Breel Embolo into goalscoring situations.
But he is perfectly adept at finding the net himself, as highlighted by 26 goals in all competitions for Benfica in 2020-21.
Predicted line-up: Sommer; Akanji, Schar, Elvedi; Ricardo Rodriguez, Zakaria, Xhaka, Mbabu; Shaqiri, Embolo, Seferovic.
Star man: Kevin Mbabu
Kevin Mbabu only made 22 league appearances for Wolfsburg last season but he consistently demonstrated his ability to stretch defences with his sublime dribbling when given a chance to impress.
The former Newcastle defender can play as a right-back or right wing-back and has even operated in central defence and on the left on occasion.
The 26-year-old spoke about his versatility when interviewed earlier this season.
He said: “I’m strong defensively and I can bring a lot going forward. I always try to help the team to score goals and to have good chances up front. But I think my strongest part is my defensive part.”
Up-and-comer: Ruben Vargas
Ruben Vargas, 22, plays for German side Augsburg and his talent is beginning to flourish after a challenging start to life at the club.
The winger made 30 Bundesliga appearances in 2020-21, scoring six goals and providing three assists, while completing a commendable 50% of his 4.8 attempted dribbles per 90 minutes.
Comparisons have been drawn between Vargas and Liverpool’s Shaqiri, though there have been suggestions the youngster needs to bulk up in order to make the most of his impressive skill set.
Euro 2020 could well be a breakout tournament for the former Luzern ace.
The boss: Vladimir Petkovic
Petkovic began his coaching career in 1997 at Swiss club Bellinzona.
But his most notable achievement to date came when in charge of Lazio — guiding them to a Coppa Italia triumph in 2013.
He has been in the Switzerland dugout since July 2014 and boasts an impressive win percentage of 53.52%, while his overall record at international level speaks for itself.
The Sarajevo-born coach, 57, reached the round of 16 at Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, as well as finishing fourth in the inaugural UEFA Nations League two years ago.
With such an experienced operator at the helm, Switzerland have every chance of exceeding expectations.