Late collapse against Danes shows visitors can be brittle

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Switzerland in focus

Form guide

Of their 19 games since the start of 2018, Switzerland have lost five, tacked on by a penalty shoot-out loss to England in the Nations League finals last time out.

The most impressive results during that sequence were holding Brazil to a draw at last year’s World Cup and beating Belgium 5-2 in November.

Reaching the last four of the Nations League was quite a feat and they only succumbed in the semi-final to Portugal by two of Cristiano Ronaldo’s three goals in the last two minutes.

Conceding three times late on in the 3-3 draw against Denmark shows they can be brittle.

The gaffer: Vladimir Petkovic

Gentle but direct, the Sarajevo native had little to report on from his playing career, but flourished in coaching, attaining legendary status in Rome for leading Lazio to the Coppa Italia in 2013.

Now five years into the post, he’s not afraid to revive his squad, as former English Premier League player Valon Behrami recently discovered.

Three key battles

David McGoldrick v Manuel Akanji

Petkovic’s approach centres on backboning his side with three centre-backs. Akanji of Borussia Dortmund is likely to pick up the bustling McGoldrick, watching his every move in the air and on the deck. The €18m purchase from Basel last year is, at just 24, considered a mainstay of the side and he has talked in the run-up to the game about waring Ireland down with their fluid passing. He’ll be content just to perform his defensive duties first.

Richard Keogh v Haris Seferovic

Keogh, despite competition from John Egan operating a tier above in the Premier League, has been assured by Mick McCarthy of keeping his spot alongside Shane Duffy. Seferovic is a tricky customer, a striker often anonymous for long spells before applying a cool finish.

After missing the last qualifier against Denmark, the Benfica forward will be intent on making his mark.

Seamus Coleman v Ricardo Rodriguez

With the Swiss relying on width to attack, Rodriguez could be switched from centre to wing-back in order to facilitate the return of Fabian Schär. Coleman will have his work cut out to thwart the raiding AC Milan man but, equally, Ireland’s captain is capable of launching runs into enemy territory himself.

Reasons to be cheerful

Momentum is with Ireland

A strong starts put Ireland in control for the visit of the top seeds.

Fully-fit first XI

Although Matt Doherty, Seán Maguire, Robbie Brady, and James McCarthy miss out through to injury or fitness, none were guaranteed starters.

Reasons to be fearful

Efficiency over quality

Ireland were outplayed in Denmark before snatching a late point. They’ll need to be better in possession.

Swiss stability

They’ve reached six of the last seven major tournaments, so they usually get over the line by taking points from rivals on their travels.

Outside noise

With the fallout from the FAI scandal still running, distractions may emerge from the stands again.

This is more likely to be vocal rather than actions such as chucking tennis balls onto the pitch, however.

Ireland’s record against Swiss

Played 16, won 8, drew 3, lost 5.

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