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When it comes to a World Cup year, the March international window is usually one of the last opportunities to impress the men responsible for selecting the pre-tournament squads. However, the situation is slightly different in 2022.
Because with the next edition of FIFA’s crown jewel not being held until this winter, it gives the likes of Gareth Southgate and Murat Yakin additional opportunities to look at international prospects.
With England and Switzerland looking like it could be a rather cagey affair, it is also a game that will have to contend with a multitude of personnel changes during the second half and this means, my focus is on the first 45 minutes.
Because after taking a deep dive into the best betting sites, I have found one market in particular that is of great interest to me, and this is backing England to be ahead after the first 45 minutes.
Whether they win after 90 is of no real regard here, I am just interested in the first 45 minutes and if you think that will also be the case, you can currently back this outcome at odds of 29/20 (bet365).
Although England’s disappointment in the final of the European Championships was only eight months ago, such despair is now in the past and with 2022 now fully upon us, the focus shifts to World Cup preparation.
Preparations that continue over the next few days and with a pair of friendlies firmly in the diary, England’s latest group of players will be tested against both Switzerland and the Ivory Coast.
While with two friendly fixtures pencilled in, it will also give Harry Kane the opportunity to add more goals to his already impressive England tally and in doing so, edge closer to Wayne Rooney’s all-time record for the Three Lions.
Of course, it is not all about Kane, it will also be the opportunity to blood some new talent and with defender Marc Guehi earning a first invite to the squad, the Palace star will be hoping to also earn a first cap.
With a litany of talent to choose from, manager Gareth Southgate will be spoiled for choice in terms of selection and although it is only a friendly, it is still a game that he and his players will be looking to win.
In terms of injuries and suspensions for the visit of Switzerland, there have been four recent withdrawals from the squad, and this means the quartet of Tyrick Mitchell, Kyle Walker-Peters, Sam Jonhstone and Ollie Watkins have all been called up as replacements.
Arguably the biggest shock of the European World Cup qualifiers, was the fact that Switzerland topped their group and in doing so, consigned Italy to the play-off phase of the process.
An outcome that looked rather unlikely when you consider that it was Italy themselves who won last summer’s European Championships and although it was still a huge surprise, it arguably does Switzerland a disservice at the same time.
If only because manager Murat Yakin has managed to assemble a crop of household names across Europe and with the likes of Breel Embolo in attack, they have a player who has more experience than his years.
With Embolo being just 25 years old, you would think that he still has a lot to learn on the international stage. Then again, this is a man who has represented his country in each of the last three major international tournaments that have taken place.
Which is another reason why Switzerland are one of the dark horses when it comes to European football, and they will be in a strong position to offer England a stern test at the weekend.
In terms of injuries and suspensions for the trip to England, Murat Yakin will be able to call upon a whole host of talented names and in terms of Premier League interest, this will be supplied by Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka and Newcastle’s Fabian Schaar.
When it comes to the history of these two teams, the most memorable clash was their meeting in 1996 and the opening of that year’s European Championship - a fixture that saw the two sides play out a 1-1 draw at Wembley.
In terms of their overall head-to-head record, England have won on 18 occasions, Switzerland 3 and there have been 5 draws
When it comes to football stadiums in England, they are no bigger than that of Wembley and with the home of the beautiful game on show this weekend, it will be another opportunity to show this incredible structure to the world.
With COVID-19 restrictions being lifted in England, it means there is no longer the need to show a Vaccine Passport before attending the ground. Which means, match tickets are the only item that is required to be produced at the time of writing.
With it being an international friendly, it is always hard to get a true gauge on starting line-ups and this means that the pre-match odds in the 1x2 market, have a habit of being either over or under-priced.
While at the same time, any bets you do place are better focused on the first 45 minutes. If only because, there will be a raft of substitutions in the second half, and this will hamper the flow of the game.