This article is part of The Guardian’s Euro 2020 Expert Network, a cooperation between some of the best media organizations from the 24 countries that rated. theguardian.com is running trailers from two countries each day in the run-up to the tournament start on June 11.
This is Vladimir Petkovic’s third major tournament as Switzerland coach, having guided the team to the round of 16 at both Euro 2016 and the World Cup in Russia two years later. There is hope that the Swiss can take a few more steps this time, but there are uncertainties on defense, where Fabian Schär has been injured for much of the season. He returned in May for Newcastle only to be sent off and suspended with a three-game ban.
The center-back says he is “fit and eager for the Euro to come” and Petkovic hopes he is right. The manager also has some problems on the left side, losing to Wolfsburg winger Renato Steffen to an ankle injury in May. There are options in the form of Steven Zuber and Ruben Vargas, but they have spent much of their seasons on the bench at Eintracht Frankfurt and Augsburg respectively.
Xherdan Shaqiri is another player who hasn’t played as much as Petkovic would have liked, but the Liverpool schemer is expected to start behind the attack as a number 10 and is normally capable of changing the style despite the lack of match practice. . Another Premier League player, Granit Xhaka, has had no shortage of matches for a long season at Arsenal, but has been playing out of position as a left-back at times.
Petkovic is still confident before the tournament. “I’ve been watching videos of our opponents since March,” he told Blick. “I think it is positive that the tournament is played in different countries so that not everyone is together. We will offer our players a jab before the tournament, but they will be in individual rooms and there will be no family visitors. UEFA has banned it. “
The coach has singled out the first Group A game against Wales as key and says his team will be “120% ready” for the match in Baku. Petkovic prefers to play in a 3-4-1-2 formation that becomes 5-2-1-2 on defense, which means wide-open players operate as full-backs.
Born in Sarajevo, Petkovic came to Switzerland as a 24-year-old law student. After a rather undistinguished playing career in the Swiss second division, he began his coaching career at AC Bellinzona in 1997 while working full-time as a social worker for a charity, Caritas Tessin. “I was working with unemployed people and some of them had drug and alcohol problems,” he told Blick last year. “I helped them to be able to handle everyday things and find work. That, like football, was also about people and motivation. I learned that each human being has his own personality and his own problems. But we try to work as a team there and help each other to reach our goal ”.
Xherdan Shaqiri. Magic Dwarf, Alpine Messi, Power Cube – The diminutive southpaw has numerous nicknames, but Shaq Attack is absolute number one, especially among younger fans. He chose to wear the number 23 for Michael Jordan and is by far Switzerland’s most famous player even though he has played less and less for Liverpool. He has appeared in many advertisements, including Volkswagen, Coca-Cola, and the Coop supermarket chain. In the summer of 2020 he underwent a hair transplant, with the same German specialist as Jürgen Klopp).
Thankful for the delay of a year
Borussia Mönchengladbach defensive midfielder Denis Zakaria suffered a bad knee injury against Dortmund in March 2020, in a duel with compatriot Roman Bürki. Zakaria had to undergo two operations and did not return until the end of November 2020. If the European Championship had been played last year, Petkovic would have had to do without him. “The [Gladbach] the coach, Marco Rose, really supported me, “he says,” when you’re struggling with an injury, it’s important to hear that the coach thinks you’re still an important player. “
What the fans sing
The 2006 fan song “Chum, bring en hei” remains a favorite. Written by Baschi, the Basel musician who is engaged to Alana Netzer, the daughter of Günter Netzer, once of Real Madrid and Gladbach. One line is: “Nume no en blinde Schiri chan eus no stoppa”. (Only a blind referee can stop us now.) For Euro 2008 in Switzerland, the reference to “referee, I know where your car is” was removed after pressure from UEFA.
What fans say
Oh Embolo, oh Embolo, i dä Schwiizer Nati isch de Breel dihei! Oh Embolo, oh Embolo, your home is the Swiss team!
Fortunately hommer no dä summer! Luckily we still have Sommer!
Shaq, dä Schnägg Shaqiri, the snail
Pandemic hero / villain
In a 2020 Christmas video, the national stars gathered to record a video for the victims of the coronavirus. Goalkeeper Yann Sommer was one of those who participated, speaking with a nurse at Thusis GR hospital, and later said: “This simplicity, how she dominates her daily life as a nurse without problems, even in times of Covid, was impressive.”
Max Kern writes for blick.ch.
Follow him on Twitter @ MaxKern3.
For a profile of Breel Embolo, click here.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism