England and Switzerland battle it out for a place in the UEFA Euro 2024 Final Four on TSN

England were seconds away from losing in the round of 16 from UEFA Euro 2024 after a poor 90 minutes against a talented Slovakia side.

Gareth Southgate’s side – and, for that matter, the manager’s tenure – faced an ignominious finish after 25 runs, having never left first gear in their four matches in Germany.ThEvan Schranz’s minute goal. But three lions managed to get off the canvas.

Deep into stoppage time, Jude Bellingham made a brilliant play. When his team needed it most, the Real Madrid midfielder latched on to Mark Quahehi’s flick-on header and unleashed a sensational overhead kick to stun Martin Dubravka and even the game at 1-1 to force extra time. Beyond the excitement of scoring the goal, Bellingham’s celebratory gesture earned him a one-game ban that could be handed to him in a year.

But Slovakia was shocked. Minutes into extra time, Evan Toney found Harry Kane at the back post as the England captain put his side 2-1 up and they never looked back. It was a brutal exit for Slovakia, but a reminder of what this England team is capable of when motivated. The question remains: Why is motivation so low throughout Euro 2024?

England will undoubtedly go home to another game like Sunday’s in Dusseldorf this Saturday against Switzerland. Murat Yakin’s Switzerland side professionally dispatched Italy 2-0 in the round of 16 thanks to goals from Remo Froler and Ruben Vargas. The Swiss were comfortable throughout the 90 minutes, never letting the Azzurri settle. Yakin plays Switzerland with confidence and is on the cusp of its first semi-final trip.

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But has the sleeping giant been awakened?

England vs Switzerland live from Dusseldorf with coverage on TSN3/4, CTV, TSN.ca and the TSN app at 11am and 8am.

„They are a competitive team who know how they got to the final three years ago, how good they are, what good players they have,” Yakin said of England. „It’s up to us to frustrate another big opponent and play the game. We know how to play it, where anything is possible.

Southgate will be forced to make at least one change to his starting XI. The Crystal Palace centre-back, perhaps England’s best player at the Euros, was unavailable due to a backlog of bookings. How Southgate accounts for his absence will be a crucial decision. On top of Guehi’s suspension, John Stones, his partner in central defense, will deal with a thigh injury and Kieran Trippier is still clearly not 100 percent. So what to do?

A simple switch would be to replace Guehi with a back four and draft Aston Villa’s Esri Gonza. London native Gonza, 26, earned his first cap last March and it’s clear Southgate sees something in the player.

„I’m always ready,” Gonza said earlier this week. „If the gaffer wants to play with me, I’ll step in wherever he wants to play. I’m always ready.”

But Switzerland play with three men at the back and Southgate is testing one in training. There’s also the matter of Luke Shaw. Out of action since February, the Manchester United left-back is ready to go. However, he was pulled out of his Wednesday media appearance for an unknown reason. Will we finally see Shaw against Switzerland?

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Yakin has no say in the matter, but he clearly prefers Southgate sticks with four at the back.

„England plays vertically,” Yakin explained. „If we press, they don’t get into the game. They use a lot of their full-backs, which can be unpredictable. We can press well against teams with a back four and play our game. England usually play like that. They know how to attack us. They know how to attack us. We’re happy to see that they like it.”

England and Switzerland have met 27 times, with the Swiss winning only three times. Their last win came against England in the spring of 1981 in a 1982 World Cup qualifier. In the 13 matches since then, England have won 10 and drawn 3. Their last meeting was in a friendly at Wembley in March 2022, with the Three Lions winning 2-1 thanks to goals from Shaw and Kane.

Saturday will be the third match between the two teams at the Euros. At Euro 2004 in Portugal, a goal from Steven Gerrard and a brace from Wayne Rooney saw England win 3–0 in the group stage. Earlier, in 1996, Switzerland drew England 1-1 at Wembley during Kubile Turkilmas’ 82.n.dAlan Shearer’s first-half goal had a minute penalty disallowed.

The winner of Saturday’s game will face the winners of the other quarter-final between Turkey and the Netherlands.

Possible England XI (3-4-2-1): Jordan Pickford; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Ezri Gonza; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kobe Mainu, Declan Rice, Bugayo Saga; Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham; Harry Kane

Possible Switzerland XI (3-4-3): Yan Sommer; Fabian Schar, Manuel Akanji, Ricardo Rodriguez; Sylvan Widmer, Granit Xhaka, Remo Freuler, In Love; Michael Abischer, Ruben Vargas, Brielle Mbolo

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