Spain manager Luis Enrique will have to make do without the services of Mikel Oyarzabal, Dani Olmo, Gerard Moreno, and Aymeric Laporte owing to respective injuries, while Thiago Alcantara, Ansu Fati, Iago Aspas, Sergio Ramos, and David de Gea have all been excluded from the squad.
On the other hand, the former Barcelona head coach called up potential debutants Borja Iglesias and Nico Williams, as well as Valencia defensive midfielder Hugo Guillamon. It is likely that the trio will get a chance to impress and it will be seen as their audition for the World Cup.
As usual, Spain will line up in a 4-3-3 formation in front of goalkeeper Unai Simon. Pau Torres and Eric Garcia should form the centre-back pairing for La Roja. Both Cesar Azpilicueta and Jordi Alba, despite being relegated to the bench for their domestic clubs, should continue in their respective full-back roles for the national team.
Spain captain Sergio Busquets will sit in midfield and look to dictate the tempo of the game, prevent turnovers and recycle the ball effectively. He will have great support from the robust Koke, while Gavi, who has gone from strength to strength, will also add a creative edge from the middle of the park.
Alvaro Morata will lead the line for the hosts, but will act more as a false-9 facilitator, with Ferran Torres and Pablo Sarabia acting as utility forwards either side of him, shooting behind or between defenders. Enrique could also call on one of two uncapped forwards in Iglesias or Williams from the bench if he needs a physical and aerial focus for his attack.
Switzerland will be sweating over the fitness of defender Ricardo Rodriguez, with the Torino centre-back a doubt after falling ill, but he could still recover in time to start against Spain on Saturday. If he does not make the playing XI, Eray Comert or Kevin Mbabu may step in.
In addition, boss Murat Yakin has no new injury concerns ahead of the trip to Zaragoza, with RB Salzburg forward Noah Okafor the only notable absentee due to a dental problem. The visitors are likely to line up in a 4-3-3 formation.
Yann Sommer has usually been first choice for the Swiss national team in recent times, but Montpellier stopper Jonas Omlin could get another chance to impress between the sticks after last showing against Portugal.
Newcastle United’s Fabian Schar will resume his centre-half partnership with Manuel Akanji at the heart of Switzerland’s defense as they hope to keep things at the back throughout the game, meaning centre-back Nico Elvedi will miss out, while Ricardo Rodriguez and Kevin Mbabu should starting as full-backs on the left and right sides.
Denis Zakaria has been recalled to the squad and could start for Zaragoza alongside usual candidates Remo Freuler and Granit Xhaka in midfield. Breel Embolo will look to put his pace to good use on the left wing. Xherdan Shaqiri is expected to keep his place on the right wing, with the out-of-form Haris Seferovic relied on in the center in Okafor’s absence.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Simon; Azpilicueta, Garcia, P. Torres, Alba; Koke, Busquets, Gavi; F. Torres, Morata, Sarabia
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Omlin; Mbabu, Schar, Akanji, Rodriguez; Zakaria, Freuler, Xhaka; Shaqiri, Seferovic, Embolo
Spain 1-1 Switzerland
Spain are heavy favourites heading into this game thanks to their superior quality in the middle of the park, which gives them the upper hand going into this encounter, at least in theory. They do not concede a lot in Luis Enrique’s possession-based style to control the games, while having options like Gavi, Busquets, and Sarabia, means they tend to create a plethora of high-quality chances.
However, Luis Enrique’s side does not seem to be blessed with the sharpest cutting edge in the final third. They have scored one goal or fewer in three of their last five Nations League home games. The most common result of matches between these two sides in recent times is 1-1, with three of the last four meetings ending with that scoreline after normal time.
The Hard Tackle expects that pattern to continue here, with the tenacious Swiss throwing a spanner in the works for Luis Enrique’s men and the battle for the top spot in Group A2 going right down to the wire to the Iberian derby on Matchday 6.