Match Preview: Switzerland (a)

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Finland complete this international triple header with a visit to a Swiss side currently cruising through World Cup qualification and on their way to the Euros. Both sides will look to make a raft of changes to test the depth of their squads, kick off is 21:45 Finland time.

The squad: Albin Granlund left the squad with a severe concussion suffered during the draw in Kiev, Thomas Lam has been added to the squad as cover. That game also saw Joni Kauko, Jukka Raitala and Rasmus Schüller leave the field after heavy collisions, so all are doubtful. If last years games against France and Poland are anything to go by Kanerva will use this tie to take a look at some of his fringe players. Mjällby keeper Carljohan Eriksson could be in line for a debut while Robert Ivanov has so far only represented Finland in non-FIFA recognized games in the Middle East. Kanerva has a wealth of so far unused options up top, Robert Taylor only got 7 minutes against Ukraine, Onni Valakari only the first 45 against Bosnia, while Marcus Forss and Pyry Soiri will be chomping at the bit. Fitting them all into an effective formation could be tricky, the simplest option would be the usual 4-4-2 with Onni partnering Forss, Taylor and Soiri in wide attacking positions, but Kanerva has favored his 3-5-2 more recently, if it’s becoming his preference ahead of the Euros, the Huuhkajat still need to work out the kinks. 

Opposition: Switzerland go into Wednesday’s clash on the back of two wins against Bulgaria and Lithuania. The Swiss weren’t particularly tested in either encounter, against Lithuania Xhedran Shakiri bagged the only goal of the game. The most noteworthy event of the match was however a delay to the game as one of the Swiss goals needed to be replaced as it was 10 centimetres too high. Switzerland have a lot of top level players, which would ordinarily be a cause for concern, but after two games with the national side and an already congested season many clubs will be expecting Vladimir Petkovic to ring in the changes and rest the big guns. We already know that veteran ‘keeper Yann Sommer will be rested as he left the squad to be replaced by young ‘keeper Gregor Kobel and striker Admir Mehmedi will miss out. The game will provide an opportunity for players that aren’t usually in the first eleven, such as Gavranavic Fassnacht, Sow, Mbabu or Fernandes though it isn’t Petkovic’s style to make sweeping changes, Granite Xhaka or even Shakiri aren’t regular starters for their premier league sides at the moment, they could continue. 

Previous: This will be the sixth time Finland have met Switzerland, the last encounter Reto Ziegler grabbed a late winner to deny Stuart Baxter’s men, the last time Finland beat Switzerland, in 1997, Simo Valakari played centre mid for the Finns, his son Onni, will likely play this time round.

P:5, W:2, D:0, L:3, GF:4, GA:6

Referee: Manuel Schuttengruber (Austria) – Europa League level whistler who reffed our 1-0 win over Kosovo, away, in 2017. He’s sent off 6 in the last 50 games and generally tends to let the game flow.

Broadcast: Live on ViaFree, studio starts at 21:00 (EET).

Oppo view: Craig King (FootballSwiss) – “The hard work is done but with three games in a week I expect some rotation. It will still be a pretty strong side regardless.

It will be a difficult game, for sure, I feel like you guys haven’t lost in ages and are proving a tough match for everyone. The draw in Ukraine was particularly impressive.”

FFS Predicts:

Mark H: 0-1

Keke: 1-1

Rich: 0-0

Mark W: 1-2

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