Chapuisat to miss out as Switzerland shuffle side

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When Switzerland's squad met the media just after breakfast yesterday to discuss this afternoon's match against England, each player was assigned a table with a name-card sitting neatly in the middle of it. But the table marked "Johann Vogel" was empty, and having a man from the Sun prancing around in Swiss national costume and carrying a cuckoo clock somehow did not quite compensate for the midfielder's absence.

When Switzerland's squad met the media just after breakfast yesterday to discuss this afternoon's match against England, each player was assigned a table with a name-card sitting neatly in the middle of it. But the table marked "Johann Vogel" was empty, and having a man from the Sun prancing around in Swiss national costume and carrying a cuckoo clock somehow did not quite compensate for the midfielder's absence.

Vogel, a fixture in the Swiss side since making an international debut on his 18th birthday, shortly before Euro 96, has left such a void at the heart of the side after collecting a red card in the goalless draw against Croatia that it may take two people to fill it. As well as bringing in the Marseille captain, Fabio Celestini, Switzerland's coach, Kobi Kuhn, is also likely to employ Ricardo Cabanas as an extra body in the midfield and leave out the ageing striker Stephane Chapuisat.

That tactic would be a rare departure from Kuhn's favoured 4-4-2 formation, showing his respect for England. "If we resist for the first 20 minutes, that's our chance," the veteran coach said. "Maybe England will be nervous and that's our possibility. I hope they'll be scarred from the first game. They were attacking from the first moment against France and they will against us. I think it's a good moment to play them because they made a great match and lost and they're under great pressure. We have nothing to lose."

Only Latvia of the 16 finalists here stand lower in the Fifa rankings and, having been placed among the fourth seeds in the tournament draw, Switzerland believe they have already achieved a measure of self-respect in holding Croatia with 10 men. Never mind that one English critic described it as "probably the dullest game of football ever played at a (sic) major finals".

The Swiss were forced to defend after Vogel was sent off, receiving a second yellow card for kicking the ball away when he believed he was taking a free-kick. The team felt hard done by, all the more so when England's David James was not sent off and suspended for bringing down Thierry Henry later the same evening. But as they blamed James for his positioning at the free-kick that brought France's equalising goal, they may not be too concerned to see him lining up again (not to mention lining up a wall).

According to West Bromwich Albion's Bernt Haas, who will be at right-back as usual despite suffering heat exhaustion after Sunday's game, Celestini's selection means the English midfield should ensure their shin-pads are in place.

"Vogel is technically better but Celestini is good at going into tackles. He sometimes makes stupid fouls but if you play against England it's all about tackles and really fighting for 90 minutes. If you look at the England squad and the Swiss squad, you'd say it'll be an easy game for England," said Kuhn. "But it would be wrong to say they're much better than us and if they think that, it could go the wrong way. Look at the Croatia game and it shows we deserve to be here in Portugal. We showed we can play at this level."

Haas also praises Hakan Yakin, the playmaker who, if Chapuisat is dropped, will be pushed forward: "Sometimes you don't see him for 70 minutes, then he does something special. He's the same as Jason Koumas at West Brom who is technically perfect and can do anything with the ball."

Hakan and his brother Murat Yakin, who keeps Stephane Henchoz out of the team, are the only sports stars in Switzerland on a par with Martina Hingis and Roger Federer, according to Haas. Federer, the Wimbledon men's singles champion, was a talented junior footballer who supports FC Basel and predicts a 1-0 win for Switzerland today. He also forecast a 2-1 success against Croatia, however, and may be over-estimating his countrymen's capacity for goalscoring, a problem ever since last autumn's decisive 2-0 win over the Republic of Ireland.

In a 4-4-1-1 formation, the onus would fall on Alex Frei, who was prolific in qualifying (five goals in eight games) but is now on a barren run. Vogel - in German "the bird" - has flown, and the Swiss may miss him badly.

ANGLO-SWISS ENCOUNTERS FIVE CLASSIC MATCHES

Switzerland 1 England 1

25 March 1998, friendly, Berne

The last meeting. A sterile, hapless affair as England warmed-up for the World Cup with an experimental, injury-affected team. Glenn Hoddle's side fell behind to a Ramon Vega header, before Paul Merson equalised after a blunder by the goalkeeper.

England 1 Switzerland 1

8 June 1996, Euro 96, Wembley

The opening game and a nervous England, the hosts, played poorly despite going ahead through an Alan Shearer goal. Switzerland earned a deserved late equaliser through a controversial penalty after a handball by Stuart Pearce. Kubilay Turkyilmaz scored to gain what would be Switzerland's only point as they finished bottom of the group. England went on to the semi-finals.

Switzerland 2 England 1

30 May 1981, World Cup qualifier, Basle

The last time the Swiss beat England, and their only victory in a competitive encounter, as Ron Greenwood's side struggled to qualify for the next year's World Cup. Alfred Scheiwilder and Claudio Sulser scored for Switzerland, with substitute Terry McDermott getting one goal back.

Switzerland 1 England 8

5 June 1963, friendly, Basle

England's record victory - apart from the countries first encounter in 1909 which England won 9-0, although that fixture was unofficial. The match was significant because it was early into Alf Ramsey's reign. Bobby Charlton scored a hat-trick in a team including Bobby Moore.

England 2 Switzerland 0

20 June 1954, World Cup Finals, Berne

An England team on the wane met Switzerland for the first time in a competitive match. Goals from Jimmy Mullen and his Wolverhampton Wanderers' team-mate Dennis Wilshaw helped England win the group. The Swiss joined England in the knock-out stages, both lost in the quarter-finals.

Head-to-head record

P 18; Eng 11; Swit 3; D 4.

Does not include four unofficial matches, not recognised by the Football Association, all of which were won by England.

Jason Burt

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