Switzerland v England preview
All eyes will be on Wayne Rooney in Basel on Tuesday evening as England prepare to take on Switzerland.
By James Riach
Last Updated: 07/09/10 7:33pm
All eyes will be on Wayne Rooney in Basel on Tuesday evening as England prepare to take on Switzerland in their second Euro 2012 qualifier.
Talk of Rooney's current state of mind has dominated both the back and front pages of newspapers in recent days following Sunday's allegations about his private life, but he is set to line up in St Jakob Park after being backed by boss Fabio Capello.
Quite what kind of performance the Manchester United man produces remains to be seen, as after a torrid summer where he looked a shadow of his usual self, he returned to his imperious best against Bulgaria last Friday.
The Three Lions opened their Euro account with a domineering 4-0 rout at Wembley, as Jermain Defoe bagged a hat-trick with Adam Johnson also getting on the scoresheet.
Rooney had a hand in all four goals against the Bulgarians, and after seeming out of sorts during the World Cup in South Africa, finally regained his form of last season.
However, after a whirlwind last few days the 24-year-old frontman will be well aware that his every kick against the Swiss will now come under intense scrutiny.
It had been speculated that coach Capello would even leave him out of the side, but the Italian was unwavering in his support of Rooney on the eve of the clash, insisting that he is in the right frame of mind to play.
The Group G tie is expected to be England's toughest of the qualifying campaign, and Switzerland proved their credentials as difficult opponents after a victory over Spain in the World Cup.
Ottmar Hitzfeld has created a typically gritty side that unlike Swiss cheese, is not full of gaping holes. Despite not advancing from the group stages in South Africa they only conceded one goal and their coach who is known as 'Der General' in his native Germany will send out a side difficult to break down.
But confidence is high in the England camp following their latest victory, and if Jermain Defoe continues his lethal form in front of goal then Switzerland may have to look to attack themselves.
Chelsea duo Frank Lampard and John Terry remain absent with injuries, so Steven Gerrard is expected to continue in the heart of midfield alongside Gareth Barry.
Michael Dawson suffered a nasty injury against Bulgaria and now faces a spell on the sidelines, so Capello will have to decide who is to come in alongside Phil Jagielka in central defence.
The options for the experienced tactician include Bolton's Gary Cahill, Manchester City's Joleon Lescott and West Ham's Matthew Upson - with Cahill the favourite to step into the breach after coming on as Dawson's replacement last time out.
It will be in defence, therefore, where England are perhaps at their most vulnerable as despite boasting vast Premier League experience and performing admirably against Bulgaria, Jagielka and, if selected, Cahill, have barely no experience at international level.
Having said that, Switzerland are not a side in a rich vein of form in front of goal, with experienced striker Alexander Frei receiving jeers from his own fans after missing a penalty in their 0-0 friendly draw against Australia on Friday.
Frei has netted a remarkable 40 goals in 78 appearances for his country but he is currently in the midst of a goal drought - having not scored in the last year for Switzerland.
Tranquillo Barnetta, who has been struggling with a knock, is someone that Glen Johnson will have to keep an eye on if he plays and the England right-back may not be able to launch his forays down the right flank as regularly as he would like.
Philippe Senderos is sidelined with a long-term injury and will not feature for the Swiss, while goalkeeper Diego Benaglio is on paternity leave.
Possible starting XIs:
England: Hart, G Johnson, Jagielka, Cahill, A Cole, Barry, Gerrard, Milner, Walcott, Rooney, Defoe
Switzerland: Wolfli, Lichsteiner, Grichting, Von Bergen, Ziegler, Fernandes, Degen, Barnetta, Inler, Frei, Derdiyok