*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change
Beyond the obvious financial rewards they bring, it’s hard to understand what benefits there are to playing international friendlies in March.
The vast majority of Gareth Southgate’s England squad are still in the hunt for something, be that league or European glory (or even just to stay in the Premier League. Alright, Pickers, how’s things?). They have bigger fish to fry than playing Switzerland or Ivory Coast.
Yet here we all are. And to be fair, this match is the more useful of the Three Lions’ two fixtures this week, as Switzerland are 14th in the FIFA Ranking and off to the World Cup, as opposed to Ivory Coast who are 51st and not.
England scored 30 goals and conceded just two in their seven previous matches this season so what can we expect here?
*A Bet Builder with these four bets pays at approximately 11/1 with Paddy Power
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As Switzerland reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 and topped a World Cup qualification group which contained Italy (though that’s maybe not such a big deal any more), they will definitely present Southgate’s boys with a decent test.
Murat Yakin took over as manager from Vladimir Petkovic after the Euros, but it’s been very much a case of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss,’ with the team remaining difficult to break down.
England have a strong record against the Swiss, last losing to them in 1981, but there isn’t usually much between the teams.
They last met in the hugely important Third/Fourth place play-off at the Nations League in 2019, with the Three Lions prevailing on penalties after a 0-0 draw. Prior to that, England won a friendly 1-0 at Leicester in 2018 thanks to a goal from Marcus Rashford.
With the Manchester United man having been dropped we won’t be getting that exact outcome again, but we should see a home win. While the last meeting was goalless across 120 minutes, England had five clear-cut chances while Switzerland had none.
It’s unlikely to be pretty but England should prevail.
If we look back further than the two meetings on Southgate’s watch we see that none of the last four matches between these countries have been particularly entertaining, with only five goals in total across those games.
And while England appear to have been free-scoring in 2021/22, a third of their goals came in one match against San Marino. They only scored once in matches against Poland and Hungary, and Switzerland are ranked higher than those teams.
If the home side break the deadlock early then they may manage to bag a few but as their last two friendlies ended 1-0 and none of their three under Southgate in March international breaks saw more than two goals, we’ll take the under 2.5 goals please, Paddy.
When considering which of the forwards might get on the score sheet, there’s one obvious name: Tammy Abraham.
Wait, what? Yes, the Roma striker is the top scoring Englishman in any of Europe’s big five leagues this season, with 15 goals, and has scored six times in his last eight matches.
But let’s be realistic here. Abraham might get on in the second half but if Harry Kane is fit, then Harry Kane will start. The England captain is by far and away their best hope of a goal so add his beautiful face to your Bet Builder.
International football doesn’t tend to have many corners. Pet theory: the defences aren’t that good so more of the shots are on target rather than blocked, and that often means fewer corners.
But whatever the reason, it’s usually a safe bet that an England game won’t see many of them. Just one of their seven matches this season has hit double figures for corners, and only one of their last five friendlies has.
*A Bet Builder with these four bets pays at approximately 11/1 with Paddy Power.
All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change
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