Switzerland can lock an early spot in the Euro 2016 quarterfinals, but first, they must face a motivated Romania that's hoping to earn its first victory in the tournament in nearly two decades when the two sides line up for Group A action Wednesday at Parc des Princes in Paris.
The Swiss, coming off a tight 1-0 triumph over a 10-man Albania, can double their point total to six by claiming their fifth victory over Romania and can also rest easy knowing it won’t need a win over France when the two group favorites meet June 19.
The Romanians, who achieved two draws and a loss and scored one goal in Euro 2008 and haven’t claimed a victory in the tournament since 2000, nearly drew with Les Bleus in their tournament opener. They would’ve attained the point had it not been for Dimitri Payet’s late stunner.
Instead, Anghel Iordanescu’s side must secure three points from the Swiss or potentially plan the trip back home.
And while Switzerland enters as the favorite, many signs indicate Romania is more than capable of extending its run. The difference in the world rankings, with the Swiss No. 15 and Romania No. 22, is largely negligible. Romania is just ahead in the all-time series with five wins compared to Switzerland’s four in 12 matches. Romania took the last meeting in 2012, 1-0 in friendly play.
There’s also the extra motivation of revenge for Romania, who endured a poor 4-1 loss to the Swiss in the 1994 World Cup. Furthermore, Switzerland only escaped Albania thanks to defender Fabian Schar’s header, while the attack failed to find any rhythm and drew six offside flags.
Switzerland head coach Vladimir Petkovic admitted Romania will be a difficult opponent and credited the side's work against the host nation.
"I always try and look at a team overall, and I was impressed by the Romanian side as a whole," Petkovic said. "They did a great job and caused France a lot of problems. France are an excellent side."
"From a physical and psychological perspective they were doing very well," he added. "We will see if they can match that coming into this game."
"What we gave against Albania probably won't be enough against Romania."
Prediction: Switzerland 1-0 Romania
Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN, ESPN Deportes (USA), RSI La 2, RTS Sport, SRF zwei, RTS Deux (Switzerland), Pro TV, Dolce Sport LIVE, Dolce Sport 1 (Romania)
Live Stream: ESPN3