Weblog: The football punter
Blunt Ireland may not prevent a Swiss stroll
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Ireland’s lack of firepower could well prove their undoing on the road to Euro 2020 and the slick Swiss look to have the tools to beat Mick McCarthy’s men in Dublin.
The hosts are trying to make great capital out of a fall-out between Switzerland boss Vladimir Petkovic and X-Factor talent Xherdan Shaqiri, who isn’t in the squad.
But Nations League semi-finalists Switzerland are a lot more than a one-man team and they can cope in Shaqiri’s absence, just as they have before.
Ireland will kick off at the Aviva Stadium in top spot in Group D but it’s a false position due to the fact that they have already played Gibraltar home and away, securing unimpressive wins both times.
A better result was their backs-to-the-wall 1-1 draw in Denmark, though it was a game the Danes should have won.
Switzerland had reason to feel even more aggrieved with the points they dropped against Denmark, as they saw a 3-0 lead evaporate in the final minutes of a 3-3 draw.
The bottom line is that the Swiss possess the sharpness up front that their opponents lack and they can look to the likes of Haris Seferovic and Breel Embolo to score the goals which will earn the visitors the points.
Ireland have scored only five goals in their last nine internationals. All nine of those matches have produced under 2.5 goals.
Only one man in McCarthy’s squad, wide man James McClean, has managed to score more than three international goals. None of the strikers McCarthy has to choose from have found the net for their country.
On the plus side, they are defending as resolutely as ever and if they could draw their way in to secure qualification, McCarthy would probably be happy to do it.
Switzerland will want to be positive, especially after dropping points against Denmark, and having seen off Belgium in the Nations League and acquitted themselves superbly against both Portugal and England in the finals in June, they have nothing to fear against a modest Ireland.