Latvia vs Switzerland – September 3, 19:45BST/20:45 CEST – Stadions Skonto, Riga.
It has been a tight race in Group B of UEFA World Cup qualification. Switzerland have won seven out of seven games and scored 15 goals while just conceding three times. They join Germany as one of only two countries that are still undefeated during the European World Cup qualification campaign.
Germany have all but ensured their spot in Russia next summer as die Mannschaft have a comfortable five point lead over second placed Northern Ireland. Switzerland in the meantime have no significant cushion to rest upon. Drawn in a group with Portugal they are just three points ahead of Portugal’s Selecção. That cushion is coming courtesy of a 2-0 victory over Switzerland on September 6, 2016, at the St. Jakob-Park in Basel.
Since then both Portugal and Switzerland have marched through this group without dropping a single point. Portugal are facing Hungary on Sunday a side who the Selecção dispatched 3-0 on March 25, 2017. Hence, Switzerland will want to remain perfect when they travel to the Baltic coast on Sunday where they face Latvia.
Latvia in the meantime are one of the first sides to be already eliminated from the 2018 FIFA World Cup. With just three points out of seven games, the Sarkanbaltsarkanie came close in March to take a point from Switzerland. In the end, it was only a 66th minute Josip Drmić strike that separated the two sides.
Latvia ended occupation from the Soviet Union in 1990 and has since become the only Baltic State to qualify for a major tournament. Taking part in the 2004 European Championships in Portugal the Sarkanbaltsarkanie took one point from Germany in the group stage effectively eliminating die Mannschaft from the tournament.
It remains the country’s biggest success, and in truth, the national team has struggled in recent years. Defeated in the last eight games, Latvia has lost to the likes of Estonia, Georgia, the Faroe Islands and Hungary. Hence, while already eliminated from the tournament last summer, Latvia are playing for dignity hoping to secure their first positive result since beating Andorra 1-0 on September 6, 2016.
Latvia vs Switzerland – Players to look out for:
Andris Vanins #1 FC Zürich (Latvia)
Captain Andris Vanins might be the busiest player on Sunday at the Stadions Skonto. With Switzerland being the hands down favourites in this tie goalkeeper Vanins will be called upon to be at its best for Latvia to stand a chance against a strong Switzerland side. Vanins will know his opponents well playing in the Swiss Super League for FC Zürich the keeper has been the starting goalkeeper for FCZ this season. Keeping four clean sheets in six matches, Vanins is a good keeper, who will want to demonstrate his good league form against his Swiss colleagues on Sunday.
Granit Xhaka #10 Arsenal (Switzerland)
Granit Xhaka is the heart and soul of Switzerland’s midfield. A tough player, who combines physical elements with technical style Xhaka was a standout player in the German Bundesliga while playing for Borussia Mönchengladbach. Since joining Arsenal last summer, however, Xhaka has been befallen by mediocrity that seems to be afflicting Arsenal these days. He had a poor start to the Premier League and never really seems to fit into Arsene Wenger’s system. Xhaka, therefore, will want to use this international break to regain some confidence and he did just that when Switzerland beat Andorra 3-0 on Thursday.
Latvia vs Switzerland – Match Stats
- Switzerland have been perfect in this qualification campaign taking 21 points out of seven games.
- Latvia’s record against Switzerland is W0 D1 L3.
- Latvia have already been eliminated from the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
- Latvia have lost eight games in a row.
Prediction: Latvia vs Switzerland 0-2
Latvia vs Switzerland – Possible Lineups
Vanins – Kolesovs, Gorkss, Maksimenko – Kazacoks, Vardanjans – Solovjovs, Indrans, Freimanis – Sabala, Ikaunieks
Coach: Aleksandrs Starkovs
Sommer – Rodriguez, Akanji, Schär, Lichtsteiner – Freuler, Xhaka – Zuber, Mehmedi, Shaqiri – Seferovic
Coach: Vladimir Petković
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.