England starts their Euro 2016 qualification against Switzerland, in a meeting between two teams that should be near the top of Group E. With the expansion of the European Championships from 16 teams to 24 teams, the top two teams from each group will qualify automatically for the tournament in France. That means England have a slightly larger margin of error as they can still finish second (or even third, provided that they are the best third-placed team among the nine groups) and still qualify. Switzerland will provide a stern test for England, having made it to the last 16 of the World Cup where they managed to held eventual finalist, Argentina until the 118th minute before conceding to Angel Di Maria's winner. England on the other hand, had a tournament to forget, finishing bottom of their group with a single point. The Three Lions are now relying on a handful of up-and-comers (Raheem Sterling, John Stones, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, among others) to replace the retirement of veterans such as Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, and Steven Gerrard. The first task for these up-and-comers will be to navigate the Euro qualifiers safely to France 2016.
New head coach Vladimir Petkovic has a full squad at his disposal including Aston Villa's Phillipe Senderos, while the likes of Johan Djourou, Gelson Fernandes, Valon Behrami, and Pajtim Kasami also has experiences in the Premier League. England's back line will be wary of the threat posed by Xherdan Shaqiri, the 22-year old winger is not a regular with club side Bayern Munich but he's a key man for the Swiss national team.
Roy Hodgson will be without striker Daniel Sturridge who injured his thigh in training last week. His Liverpool teammate, Jordan Henderson is now a doubt to start the game as he limped out of England's final training with an ankle injury. James Milner is most likely to step in to fill Henderson's (probable) absence while new Arsenal striker, Danny Welbeck will start in place of Sturridge.
HEAD TO HEAD
In 22 games between these two sides, England have won 14 of them including a 3-1 win in 2010 at the same venue during the Euro 2012 qualifiers. However, Switzerland's three wins over England all came in home soil, so there's no time like the present for Switzerland to add another home win against England.
England's preparation is less than convincing with a 1-0 win over Norway suggesting that they might struggle against better opposition. Switzerland is better than Norway, but England should be able to nab a point to start their campaign. Have a coffee in hand should the match remains goalless at half-time.