05.07.2024 03:20 h

In-form Switzerland eye Euros history against England

Switzerland have never reached the last four of a major international tournament but have shown that they can battle with the big boys ahead of their Euro 2024 clash with England on Saturday.

Murat Yakin's side were ruthless in dumping hapless holders Italy out of the tournament last weekend and went within seconds of beating hosts Germany and topping Group A.

The Swiss are also one of two so-called "dark horses" who are left in the tournament alongside Turkey, with the other six either previous champions or, in England's case, heavily tipped to break their Euros duck.

"We sent out an important signal tonight with the game we played," said Yakin after beating Italy.

"We did not only club together and defend as a unit and sit back, we showed we could attack and dominate proceedings."

Switzerland have reached their second straight Euros quarter-final with a squad which contains very few stars, with Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Granit Xhaka and Manuel Akanji of Manchester City their biggest names.

Instead Switzerland have a team unit which is more than the sum of its parts and has a great chance to reach a historic semi-final by eliminating England, who would already be out of the tournament were it not for the last-gasp heroics of Jude Bellingham against Slovakia.

Driving the Swiss forward are Bologna teammates Dan Ndoye, Michel Aebischer and Remo Freuler, who are making an impression in Germany after pushing their unfancied Serie A club to the Champions League.

The trio have all been key to Switzerland reach the quarters, netting or setting up a goal in three of their team's four matches.

Freuler crossed for Ndoye's goal against Germany and opened the scoring against Italy, while Aebischer has scored once -- against Hungary -- and laid on two more, including Ruben Vargas' stunner which sealed victory against the Italians.

Switzerland also have Kwadwo Duah, the first player born in England to score at this year's Euros, in their ranks, although the Ludogorets striker is likely be on the bench behind Monaco forward Breel Embolo.

"How they've played this tournament and the players they've got, they've been brilliant," said England defender John Stones on Thursday.

"They've got some great players and I think it will be a really good match up, a test for us."

If Switzerland do get past England, they will face either the Netherlands or Turkey as a lop-sided knockout bracket has led to four of the top sides left in tournament all on the other side of the draw.

Hosts Germany and Spain kick off the round on Friday in a battle of the two best-performing teams before Portugal take on France.

"It really sends a tingle down your spine, gives you goosebumps, it's hugely gratifying," said Yakin of his team's displays.

"We're on the right track and doing things the right way. We've earned the right to be here but we're not done yet."