Switzerland visit England for Tuesday’s Euro 2016 qualifier aiming to spoil Wayne Rooney’s party and full of confidence following a morale-boosting comeback victory.
Rooney is one goal away from becoming England’s all-time leading scorer after moving level with Bobby Charlton on 49 goals with a penalty in Saturday’s 6-0 win in San Marino.
San Marino’s Cristian Brolli put through his own net while Theo Walcott scored a double and Ross Barkley and Harry Kane were also on target in a win that secured Roy Hodgson’s side’s place at next year’s finals in France.
The victory also maintained England’s 100 per cent record in qualification and, with a spot in the tournament proper now sealed, the focus at Wembley is likely to be on Rooney.
And Hodgson, who coached Switzerland from 1992 to 1995, admits he can now afford to experiment in their final three Group E games.
“I’m not sure early qualification gives us any particular advantage because we are going to take a lot of time to plan and improve anyway,” Hodgson said.
“What it could do is give me the opportunity for experimentation because we did not get that ahead of the World Cup when we had to win our last two qualifiers to get to Brazil.”
Although England have little more than the pursuit of qualification perfection and a landmark for Rooney to play for, they need to be wary of a Switzerland side that is still not secure of a spot in the finals and is coming off a remarkable win against Slovenia.
Vladimir Petkovic’s men trailed 2-0 with 10 minutes remaining in Saturday’s contest at St-Jakob Park, but Josip Drmic and Valentin Stocker netted two goals in four minutes to tie things up before the former completed the turnaround deep into injury time.
Defeat would have seen Slovenia move level with Switzerland on 12 points in the battle for the second place behind England. Instead Petkovic’s side now lead third-placed Estonia by five points and Slovenia by six.
Switzerland can now qualify by gaining revenge for their 2-0 defeat to England in the reverse fixture last September, providing Estonia and Slovenia draw in their meeting in Maribor.
Goalkeeper Yann Sommer believes the impressive fightback versus Slovenia has given Switzerland momentum going into Tuesday’s game.
Sommer said: “The fact we have shown so much character gives us a big boost and a lot of confidence for the game in England.”
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