Switzerland vs England: Key fixture of the group?
By Rob Casey
Monday 06 Sep 2010 21:45:00
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Despite all the talk of ‘allegations’, there’s one thing few people in England will have any dispute about. The away fixture in Basle should be Rooney et al’s toughest fixture in the whole group stage.


Fabio Capello is in no way being controversial when he states that “Switzerland are the strongest team in the group,” and so for England to avoid defeat, let alone win away from home, would be a decent result, particularly with so many injuries and, shall we say ‘distractions’ off the field.

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Unfortunately all the talk in the build-up to this crucial fixture has been about Wazza’s private life and then how this might affect his game and whether Capello should pick him. Well, if there’s one thing we’ve definitely learned this week, it’s that Rooney WILL play away from home. (I couldn’t resist that one).


“I hope his performance will be the same as at Wembley," said Capello. “I spoke with him and he is happy to play.”


Captain Steve Gerrard added: “I think football can do that for you. If you have got an issue off the pitch, football can be a release.”


Michael Dawson is therefore the only player from the Bulgaria game who will miss the tie, meaning that Gary Cahill, Joleon Lescott and Matthew Upson will be competing for the role alongside Phil Jagielka (who’d have thunk it?) in the centre of defence. It was Cahill who replaced the Spurs man at Wembley, with the others not even making the matchday squad.


Capello is also likely to stick with his favoured 4-4-2, bless him. So harshly tested in South Africa, the Swiss will offer Don Fabio a genuine chance to prove that his system can stand up to the pressure of the better sides. If not, then we’re back to the forlorn position we were in a week or so ago.


Football should never be a straight-forward black-and-white issue, but is so often portrayed as such. Nevertheless, this game is certainly the key fixture in the group. Victory will restore faith, hope and confidence in the Three Lions, as it won’t get any harder than this all campaign. Defeat, however, could be devastating.


That’s why my money’s on a draw.


What about yours? 


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