Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Switzerland v Italy: Freuler ´not afraid´ of Azzurri ahead of last-16 clash

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 27 Jun 2024

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Switzerland midfielder Remo Freuler has insisted his team-mates are not afraid of Italy ahead of their Euro 2024 last-16 meeting in Berlin.

Murat Yakin’s side, who finished second in Group A behind hosts Germany, face the Azzurri on Saturday with the hopes of ending their 11-game winless run against their opponents.

Freuler, who was on loan at Bologna from Nottingham Forest last season and was previously with Atalanta, says this will be no ordinary game for him.

“Of course, it’s not a match like any other for me. In Italy I built my career, also finding an ideal country to spend my life with my family,” he said.

“On Saturday, however, there won’t be all this love. It’s a round of 16 and there will be no room for feelings.”

Freuler knows the next part of the tournament is where the Swiss will really be judged but insists they have nothing to fear from the reigning champions.

“Doing well in the first part of the tournament is important. The matches that make the difference, those capable of changing the dimension of a national team, however, are others,” Freuler said.

“But I’m not afraid. Switzerland are not afraid of Italy.”

Italy, meanwhile, continue their quest to become the second side to win back-to-back European Championships, having notched four points from their three group games.

The Azzurri were on the cusp of being eliminated from the tournament until Mattia Zaccagni’s late strike secured a 1-1 draw with Croatia on matchday three.

Head coach Luciano Spalletti is looking for a much-improved display from his side, who he described as soft following the conclusion of their Group B fixtures.

“We deserved to go through in terms of what we produced out there. We were a bit soft at times during the game, we did not necessarily play our best football,” he said.

“We were timid and need to do more. We have players who have the quality to play these games on an equal footing, but sometimes we make trivial mistakes.

“Whenever there is a challenge or a 50-50, we don’t win any. It is not a technical question, it comes down to experience, getting into these physical challenges and being willing to do the dirty work. We need to improve on that score.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Switzerland – Remo Freuler

Freuler has assisted three goals in his last four European Championship appearances for Switzerland, with his latest coming in their 1-1 draw with Germany.

The only Swiss player with more assists at the European Championships is Steven Zuber (four), and the midfielder will be keen to add to his tally in Berlin.

Italy – Gianluigi Donnarumma

Having scored just three goals in their three group games, Italy captain Donnarumma was often the busier goalkeeper in the Azzurri’s Group B fixtures.

The Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper made 11 saves for Italy in the group stages, the most by an Italian goalkeeper in that part of a major tournament since Gianluigi Buffon at Euro 2012 (also 11).

MATCH PREDICTION: ITALY WIN

This will be Switzerland and Italy’s fifth meeting at a major international tournament, with the Swiss winning both games at the 1954 World Cup (2-1 in the groups and 4-1 in a group-stage play-off).

However, Italy have won the last two, both in the group stages and both times 3-0, in the 1962 World Cup and at Euro 2020, and are unbeaten in their last 11 matches against Switzerland in all competitions (six draws, five losses).

But the contest in Berlin has the potential to go beyond the 90 minutes. Fifteen of the Azzurri’s last 26 knockout matches at major international tournaments have gone to extra-time, including four of their last five.

Switzerland may be outsiders, but they come into the encounter with confidence, having lost just one of their last 13 matches at the European Championships (four wins, eight draws) and they will be hopeful of improving their woeful record in the knockout stages of major tournaments.

Excluding shoot-outs, they have failed to win any of their seven last-16 matches at major international tournaments (three draws, four defeats), progressing to the quarter-finals on just one occasion at Euro 2020 by beating France on penalties.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Switzerland – 31.4%

Draw – 30.3%

Italy – 38.4%

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SoccerNews

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