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UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Switzerland - tactical analysis tactics

UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Switzerland

The Switzerland women’s national team’s first major tournament came in 2015 at the Women’s World Cup in Canada, before two years later qualifying for the 2017 European Championships. Those European Championships did not ultimately end as many Swiss players and fans would have hoped, with the side getting knocked out in the group stage. This time around, however, this Swiss represent a more experienced outfit and getting out of their group should be the goal. 

However, this will be no easy task for Nils Nielsen’s squad, with Switzerland facing the likes of Portugal, Sweden and the Netherlands. Battling the group stage out against the #2 and #5 ranked sides in the world according to FIFA will be no easy task, but it will surely be one that Nielsen’s side relishes once their tournament gets started on 9th July, even without Premier League and Aston Villa player Alisha Lehmann. The Swiss could pose a threat to anyone in this tournament, with them possibly being a dark horse in this tournament, as this tactical analysis and scout report will show. 

Predicted Starting XI

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Switzerland - tactical analysis tactics

Nils Nielsen regularly switches tactics and formations from match to match, with the side capable of lining up in either a 4-3-3, 4-4-2, or 4-2-3-1. Nielsen is also a manager that likes to listen to input from his players before a match, seeing if they have any ideas in regards to a tactical setup against that particular opponent. However, for this tournament, the Swiss are expected to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with each player capable of alternating positions throughout the match. It would not be surprising to see the formation switch during their matches as the game progresses. 

Gaëlle Thalmann will most likely be continuing as the first-choice goalkeeper, with the veteran shot-stopper looking to add to her 84 caps for the national team. The centre-back partnership will most likely be Hoffenheim’s Luana Bühler and Levante’s Viola Calligaris, who have become Nielsen’s preferred pairing in recent international matches. It would not be a big surprise, though, to see the more experienced Rachel Rinast replace one of those two in the backline. The two fullback positions are pretty set in stone for Nielsen, with Paris FC’s Eseosa Aigbogun the nailed-down starter at left-back. Meanwhile, on the right side, Noelle Maritz will be the likely starter, with the United States-born Swiss international a key player in the backline. 

Moving forward into defensive midfield, those two places will be occupied by Arsenal midfielder and national team captain Lia Wälti, and young up-and-coming star of the Swiss side, 19-year-old Riola Xhemaili. These two midfielders complement each other well and will need to have a good tournament if the Swiss are to make it far, with them acting as the engine room of the midfield. 

One of Switzerland’s best attackers, Alisha Lehmann, made the personal decision to withdraw herself from selection for the final squad before the tournament to prioritise her mental health. In her absence, we believe Coumba Sow and Géraldine Reuteler will be the likely starters in the two wide attacking midfield positions. They will be tasked to create chances from the wide areas for the two star attackers of this Swiss side. Playing centrally will be Paris Saint-Germain’s Ramona Bachmann, with key player Ana-Maria Crnogorčević most likely being deployed as the central striker. Though Crnogorčević is normally a defensive player, she plays a more attacking role for the national team, and that will probably be the case in this tournament. 

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Switzerland - tactical analysis tactics

The final Switzerland squad has not yet been named for Euro 2022 at the time of writing, with that not expected until mid-June, but the age scatter plot above displays what the likely final squad will be. The Swiss favour a rather mixed squad in terms of age distribution, with a healthy dose of young players, a majority of players at the peaks of their respective careers and a selection of experienced players as well. 

The majority of the likely starting XI for this tournament will be made up of players at the peaks of their careers, but Riola Xhemaili, the youngest player on this scatter plot, will be a key starter as well. Some experienced players will also be key starters, with Gäelle Thalmann, Ramona Bachmann, and Ana-Maria Crnogorčević being the first three names on the team sheet for Nils Nielsen. 

Attacking phase 

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Switzerland - tactical analysis tactics

The attacking graphic above shows Switzerland’s ranks in certain attacking metrics, with the Swiss opting for a more possession-based system. They also make a high number of forward passes and are clinical in front of goal. Their high percentile ranking of shots on target as well as xG make them a team that is always looking for an opportunity to take a shot on goal. The Swiss look to be the side that dominates most of their matches, so it will be interesting to see how this style of play translates to the tournament when they are matched up against both Sweden and the Netherlands. Following are a couple of examples of Switzerland in the attacking phase. 

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Switzerland - tactical analysis tactics

Our first glimpse of the Swiss attacking phase shows what they look to do when it comes to breaking into the final third. Crnogorčević received the ball with her back to goal in the opponent’s attacking third before turning and driving into the space. The intelligent movements of the other forward players allowed her space and gave her passing options. Bachmann cuts inside into a central position, dragging the Italian fullback narrow. With Aigbogun making an overlapping run down the flank, this allows Sow to make a run into the penalty box. Crnogorčević attempts to find Sow, but her pass is underhit. 

The graphic earlier showed that the final third passes that Switzerland plays are not in the highest percentile. This is because the attackers prefer to receive with their backs to goal before driving into the final third. This means fewer passes are played in the final third, but the clinical ability is still there. 

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Switzerland - tactical analysis tactics

The graphic earlier in the section also showed how the Swiss rank in a high percentile for shots on target % as well. This does not just mean shots from inside the penalty box, this Swiss side likes to attempt shots from distance as well. In the attacking phase above, the decoy runs of both Fölmli and Aigbogun can allow Bachmann the space to attempt a shot from distance. Though she did not score with her attempt, it forced the Italy goalkeeper into a save. 

Though Switzerland will not be the best attacking side on display at this competition, their ability in possession, as well as the number of shots that they attempt that are on target, will make them a tough side to defend against during the tournament. 

Defensive phase 

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Switzerland - tactical analysis tactics

When it comes to how this Switzerland side plays while out of possession, their fairly high number of recoveries in the final third are indicative of their tendency to quickly put the opposition under pressure when they lose possession, looking to gain it back as quickly as possible. This high number of fouls also comes partially as a result of their aggressiveness when it comes to committing to challenges, with the Swiss players not afraid to commit to a challenge even if it results in a foul. They are not the strongest when it comes to aerial challenges, with them ranking in the low percentiles in those categories. 

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Switzerland - tactical analysis tactics

As the graphic earlier showed, Switzerland look to often make recoveries in the final third, and from our video analysis, this is another factor that leads to more fouls being committed as a result. This aggressive tendency while defending is shown above. As Croatia look to play a pass out from the back, Lia Wälti quickly engages the player receiving the pass and subsequently fouls her. This quick closing down of the opposition allows fewer quick passing sequences for the opposition but may leave the Swiss defensive line exposed if the ball can be played through. 

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Switzerland - tactical analysis tactics

When it comes to a defensive shape, Nielsen is known to alternate formations throughout a match, but the back four is normally a set theme. It is further ahead in midfield where this shape can sometimes differ. The image above shows a 4-2-3-1 while defending, but this can also become a 4-1-4-1. Switzerland looks to crowd out the central areas while defending, which forces the opposition into the wide areas. The opposition are naturally less dangerous when they have the ball on the flanks, so this crowding out of the midfield makes the Swiss a sturdier defensive unit. 


UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Switzerland - tactical analysis tactics

When it comes to attacking transitional moments, a lot of Switzerland’s ability on the counter comes from their high defensive positions when they turn over possession. As a result of Romania being dispossessed high up the pitch, the Swiss can quickly break and have attacking options in transition. This is because the Swiss attackers don’t quickly drop back into a defensive shape when they turn over possession, rather they try to quickly win the ball back — a high-risk, high-reward strategy. Lia Wälti can win possession back in an advanced midfield position, and this allows Alisha Lehmann to make an unmarked run behind the Romania defence. These quick break moments in transition make the Swiss a dangerous side when it comes to attacking transition moments. 

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Switzerland - tactical analysis tactics

When it comes to defending in transition, Switzerland look to keep a compact central defensive block which, as a result, forces the opposition to move the ball out wide. The two defensive midfielders also look to keep tight centrally, eliminating any space for the opposition to move into in the central areas. The play being forced into wide areas gives the Swiss a numerical advantage inside the penalty box, which makes it easier to defend against incoming crosses from the opposition. 

Though Switzerland are set up to be a more possession-based side in possession and an aggressive side out of possession, transitional moments may be key for them in this tournament. Being in a group with Sweden and the Netherlands means they may not be able to hold as much possession, which means transitional moments may be critical. 


When looking at the forward players for Switzerland, it is not only goals they will contribute to their side’s run in the European Championships this summer — they will also contribute with their dribbling and passing ability. When looking at the likely starters in the attacking roles for the Swiss, Ana-Maria Crnogorčević is averaging 3.17 dribbles per 90 with the national team, with a success rate of 58.1%, Géraldine Reuteler averages 3.66 dribbles per 90 with a 57.1% success rate, Ramona Bachmann is averaging 9.73 dribbles per 90 with a 60.2% success rate, and Svenja Fölmli with 4.26 dribbles per 90 with a 64.9% success rate. 

Passing is another area where the Swiss forwards excel. When looking at the pass accuracies for the likely starters, you have: Svenja Fölmli at 78.3%, Ramona Bachmann at 75.9%, Géraldine Reuteler at 84.2%, and Ana-Maria Crnogorčević at 73.5%. 


When it comes to how the Switzerland women’s national team likes to play, with their possession-oriented style, the passing of the midfielders has to be good to facilitate this tactic. Well, when looking at the likely midfielders that will see the field during the European Championships, this is the case. Lia Wälti has a pass accuracy of 84.8% with the national team, Riola Xhemaili 77.5%, Coumba Sow 80.3%, Vanessa Bernauer 74.5%, and Sandy Maendly 77.9%. While Wälti and Xhemaili are the likely starters in defensive midfield, with Sow as a possible starter as well, the passing quality of all the midfielders for Nils Nielsen will be a valuable asset throughout the tournament. 

When it comes to the possession oriented system that Nils Nielsen uses with the Swiss national team, the need for the deeper lying midfielders to be able to progress the ball forward is key to chance creation. National team captain Lia Wälti is a prime example of one of the Swiss’s best ball progressers in midfield, with her attempting 13.72 passes to the final third per 90 minutes. Wälti is not the only deep lying ball progresser however for the Swiss. Riola Xhemaili attempts 4.29 passes to the final third per 90, while Coumba Sow attempts 4.16. These are a couple of reasons why the Swiss midfielders will play a critical part in their chances throughout the tournament. 


When it comes to defenders, being able to excel and win duels is key to winning back possession for your side and preventing the opposition from scoring chances. The Swiss defenders look to engage in challenges often, and while they are a side that commits a lot of fouls, they also win a majority of the duels in which they engage. Eseosa Aigbogun has won 50.4% of her duels when playing for the national team, Viola Calligaris 60.8%, Rachel Rinast 45.7%, Julia Stierli 63.6%, Luana Bühler 63.4%, and Noelle Maritz 56%. The Swiss defensive unit is a relatively strong one, and their success in duels will be critical to tournament success. 

Best Performer

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Switzerland - tactical analysis tactics

When looking for a key player in this Switzerland team, it is hard to look past the Swiss army knife that is Ana-Maria Crnogorčević. The 31-year-old Barcelona defender is an impact player for her national team, and it is in attack instead of defence. While she may play mostly as a defender at club level, she plays as the central striker with Switzerland. In 125 caps for the national team, Crongorčević has 61 goals, which shows her goal-scoring prowess. 

Looking at the visual which looks at her domestic performances for the last calendar year and compares her statistics in each noted area with the league median,  we can see that she excels in almost all the attacking metrics, except for her percentage of offensive duels won, with her touches in the box per 90 being a key metric to look at. While her goal-scoring ability is the main attribute that the Swiss will rely on her for, Crnogorčević’s link play will also be key. While Crnogorčević will get into the box and shoot herself, she will also drop into the pockets of space and let the attacking midfield players run beyond her. Her pass accuracy of 81.6%, along with her 3.22 passes to the final third per 90 and 4.11 passes to the penalty area per 90 illustrate the capabilities of Crnogorčević when it comes to linking play together as well. 

Though Crnogorčević really does not have many weaknesses, ironically at national team level, the weaknesses she does have are defensive. This is mostly due in part to her more advanced starting position when playing for Switzerland, with her ranking low in the metrics on duels per 90 as well as defensive duels per 90. All in all, however, Ana-Maria Crnogorčević will play a large part in whether the Swiss will progress far in the tournament or once again be knocked out in the group stages. 

Tournament Prediction 

The 2017 European Championships were the first Euros that the Switzerland women’s national team qualified for, and they ended up getting knocked out in the group stages. This time around, with the experience they have gathered, as well as the introduction of some young star players (Ex. Riola Xhemaili), Nils Nielsen will hope his side at least goes one better. 

Getting out of the group stages and into the last eight of the competition should be the goal for the Swiss, with anything further than that a pleasant surprise. Swiss fans will hope that their side can be a Cinderella story and progress far in the tournament, and with the talent that they possess, it is possible.