Nations League prediction, odds, picks

Tips on Spain vs Switzerland

Spain are on course to qualify for the final, but there is still work to be done

When the Nations League was first proposed, the convoluted format led to initial resistance from football fans across Europe. But it’s a tournament that works better in practice than it looks in theory, and there’s now near-widespread agreement that its introduction was a positive development for the European game. For proof of that, see how seriously Spain and Switzerland take the next round of fixtures and compare it to the lack of intensity and motivation regularly seen in international friendlies.

These two teams have everything to play for as the campaign draws to a close. For Spain, the prize they are chasing is qualification for the Nations League final. A win here would secure their place in next summer’s mini-tournament should Portugal lose to the Czech Republic. Any other combination of results would see the race for top spot in Group 2 come down to next Tuesday’s clash in Braga between Portugal and Spain.

Luis Enrique’s side currently hold a slim one-point advantage over their Iberian neighbors heading into matchday five. They are unbeaten so far, despite drawing their first two games against Portugal (1-1) and the Czech Republic (2-2). Spain then beat Switzerland 1-0, before keeping another clean sheet in the 2-0 triumph over the Czechs last time out.

Spain are among the favorites to win the 2022 World Cup in Qatar later this year. These upcoming games will be used by Luis Enrique as preparation for the big event. La Roja are doing well: after reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2020 last summer, this team is aiming for a peak in November. Scoring goals has been a problem for Spain at times, so their manager will be hoping to see plenty of attacking quality from his side on Saturday.

Switzerland bottom of the group and could do with a result

There is also something at stake for Switzerland in their last two games of the 2022/23 Nations League. A place in the final is now beyond them, and a third-place finish would be considered a success from here. Indeed, the Swiss are currently bottom of Group 2 having picked up just three points from the four matches they played in June.

That solitary success came in their last outing, a 1-0 win over Portugal in Geneva. The victory will have given Switzerland hope ahead of Saturday’s game against Spain, although it will be a much more difficult task given that the game is in Zaragoza. Murat Yakin’s side were competitive in the second leg, losing 1-0 on matchday three, but they will have their hands full in an attempt to stop Spain at home.

Switzerland are also eyeing the World Cup and will not want to participate in this competition after five defeats in six Nations League games. A meeting with the Czech Republic on Tuesday means the clash with Spain isn’t exactly do or die, but a positive performance (even if the result doesn’t follow) would be a major boost for Yakin and his players.

Switzerland showed at Euro 2020 that they were a good team that day – they reached the quarter-finals and deservedly knocked out France along the way – but a greater degree of consistency is what she needs as she prepares for Qatar.

Spain can score another win and another clean sheet here

In football, the phrase solid defending tends to conjure up images of centre-backs moving towards well-organized crosses and defensive units denying opposition space in the final third. These traits are certainly valuable when it comes to fending off attacks, but a team that keeps the sheets clean doesn’t necessarily do so because their defenders are strong in the tackle. Often the reason for success is elsewhere.

Spain is the perfect example. They have kept clean sheets in their last two Nations League matches in June and may well concede the fewest World Cup goals, despite not having the best individual defenders. But because Luis Enrique’s side are so good at keeping possession, their opponents often go long periods without seeing the ball. This limits their attacking possibilities and thus reduces the number of goalscoring opportunities they face.

Switzerland is likely to encounter this problem at La Romareda. And while Spain can sometimes struggle to turn possession in the middle third into danger in and around the penalty area, they should have enough quality to break the Swiss in this one. Spain return to zero in this penultimate game of Group 2 this weekend.

How to watch Spain vs Switzerland

Teams Spain vs Switzerland
Location La Romareda, Zaragoza, Spain
Time Saturday, September 24, 2022, 2:45 p.m. EST
How to watch fuboTV