Euro 2024: England vs. Switzerland, 1-1, 5-4 on Penalties

By Score More

A tale of perseverance and strategy: England advances to the semifinals

In what seemed like an antidote to good football, the English national team continued to apply their cautious strategy in Euro 2024, affecting even their adversaries.

This afternoon, that antidote spread once more across the Düsseldorf Arena: Switzerland fought valiantly, showing glimpses of why they were one of the best teams in this European Championship, but ultimately fell in the penalty shootout, that cruel mistress of fate.

Much like Portugal in 2016, England played conservatively, but with their immense talent, they always seemed likely to advance. They have now secured a spot in the semifinals.

Southgate’s Strategy: Same Players, Different Approach

Gareth Southgate met the expectations of the English press by altering the tactical setup for this match. The lineup remained almost unchanged—except for the suspended Guéhi, replaced by Konsa. Kyle Walker oscillated between a central defender and right-back, allowing Saka to play more as a winger and Phil Foden to occupy more central positions alongside Jude Bellingham.

Swiss manager Murat Yakin made no changes from the starting eleven that had dismantled Italy, the reigning European champions, in the previous round.

England appeared more comfortable in this match than in previous games of the tournament. Switzerland’s high press was less effective, as John Stones and Declan Rice provided composure in the build-up, while Foden thrived in central areas and Saka tormented the Swiss defense from the wing.

However, this English side is far from brilliant. Their conservative play often drags the opposition down to their level—a true antidote.

A Lukewarm First Half, Switzerland Strikes Back

The first half was uneventful, which was expected with Southgate’s approach. The bigger surprise was the subpar performance from the Swiss team.

But no antidote lasts forever. After halftime, Switzerland returned with renewed vigor and a greater presence in the attacking third.

They pressed higher and caused discomfort for the English defense, edging closer to Pickford’s goal. In the 60th minute, following a well-executed attacking move, Embolo tapped in from close range to make it 1-0.

With the toughest part done, Switzerland now had 15 minutes to withstand the pressure from England, a team brimming with talent but lacking collective cohesion.

Southgate responded by bringing on creative players like Cole Palmer and Eberechi Eze, and was soon rewarded. Unjustly rewarded, perhaps, but rewarded nonetheless.

Talent often prevails. Bukayo Saka, unsurprisingly, rescued England from defeat just five minutes after Embolo’s goal with a well-placed shot that left Sommer helpless.

England regained their desired comfort in the game, only threatened in stoppage time when Embolo almost turned hero, only to deny Ndoye a clear chance.

Cautious Overtime, Decided by Penalties

Extra time saw a mutual reluctance to take risks. Both teams feared losing more than they desired to win, breaking the deadlock only in the final minutes. Galvanized by the introduction of the experienced Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland struck the post at 117 minutes but could not avoid the shootout.

In the penalty shootout, traditionally a bane for England, fortune smiled on them this time. Manuel Akanji missed Switzerland’s first penalty, saved by Pickford, and Trent-Alexander Arnold, often a victim of Southgate’s conservatism, scored the decisive penalty.

Switzerland, one of the standout teams of this summer’s tournament in Germany, bowed out as England advanced. Southgate’s antidote seems to affect everyone, but the semifinals are now under their grasp, against the Netherlands or Turkey.

PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Bukayo Saka

At 117 minutes, in a Swiss counterattack, a slight young man in white with the number seven on his back sprinted to defend and cleared the danger. It was dispelled if there was any doubt about Saka’s desire to win this game. Playing on the right, the Arsenal winger was a constant headache for the Swiss defense. In the first half, every dangerous move went through his left foot. Though his performance dipped in the second half due to the team’s overall play, he never gave up and fought until the end. In the penalty shootout, despite his past heartbreak in the Euro 2020 final against Italy, he stepped up and scored. A remarkable performance.

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