Camp Focus – Switzerland – Swiss keen to build on winning start, Shaqiri praised by Hitzfeld
Having kicked off their European Under-21 Championship finals campaign in the best possible fashion with victory over Denmark, Switzerland have switched their attention to Tuesday’s meeting with Iceland. The tournament hosts were left frustrated as the Swiss shut them out and walked away with a crucial 1-0 win in Group A.
Pierluigi Tami's under-21 squad will be keen to avoid becoming the first team from their country to lose to Icelandic opposition as well as securing a second victory of the group stage that will leave them on the cusp of a semi-final place. The Swiss coach admitted to ESPN that he would consider some changes for the game against Iceland and utilise the depth in his squad. "For the first game I used players who had a little more experience. Maybe I will change the starting line-up against Iceland. A couple of players used up a lot of energy on Saturday."
Gaetano Berardi picked up a booking against Denmark which could see him be saved for the final group game against Belarus, and Xavier Hochstrasser is in contention for a starting place after shaking off a ligament injury in his left foot. The other players that may not feature against Iceland are the four who were deployed during the senior side’s Euro 2012 qualifier against England. Granit Xhaka, Admir Mehmedi, Innocent Emeghara and the Carlsberg Sport Man of the Match against Denmark – Xherdan Shaqiri – were all involved during the 2-2 draw on June 4 and may be protected with the latter stages of the competition in mind.
Shaqiri, much hyped before the tournament kicked off, lived up to his billing by leading Switzerland to victory. His winning goal, scored after slipping past a number of Denmark defenders on his way into the box and firing the ball back across goal and into the bottom corner, was a glorious piece of individual skill that delighted the senior coach Ottmar Hitzfeld. “The Switzerland squad really played as a team and of course Shaqiri was the best player” beamed the highly-decorated manager when speaking to uefa.com. However, thanks to the busy exploits of his hectic post-season a question remains over his involvement in the clash with Group A’s bottom team.
One position that Tami won’t even consider rotating will be his goalkeeper. The coach was quick to praise his number one Yann Sommer for a string of second-half stops that kept the Danish at bay. “Having a goalkeeper like Sommer defending your goal is like a jacket in winter.” The FC Basel player also came in from a special mention from Admir Mehmedi, who was deployed at the other end of the pitch. “Our ‘keeper deserves praise because he made a couple of really important saves.”
“Another win is now the target against Iceland on Tuesday,” added the FC Zurich attacker, who was quick to clarify that no-one picked for Tuesday’s game will be looking further ahead than the task in hand. “We can't underestimate them. Every team at this tournament is here for a reason."