Camp Focus - Switzerland - Manager believes they can go all the way
With Switzerland’s initial goals comprehensively achieved thanks to wins in all three of their group games, Pierluigi Tami was quick to set new targets for his under-21 squad. “We have already shown our strength by getting to the semi-final. At this stage you also look at the nerves and physical state of the players, which will also decide how far we can go,” said the Swiss coach to uefa.com after Saturday’s win over Iceland, “but I think this team has the capacity to reach the final.”
So far Switzerland have proved to be a league above the teams they have come up against. They squeezed past the hosts of the UEFA European Under-21 Championships Denmark 1-0 in the opener before sweeping Iceland and Belarus confidently aside 2-0 and 3-0 respectively. The Swiss remain the only side with a 100% record in the tournament and Tami has refused to rule out any finishing position for his group of 23 players. “We are delighted to have achieved our first goal – we really wanted to get to the semi-finals and we thoroughly deserve to be there,” he beamed before adding, “I am thrilled with our progress. Everything is possible now.”
Much of their success has stemmed from the team’s ability to keep clean sheets in all of their matches. Goalkeeper Yann Sommer has drawn many plaudits for the string of saves he made to keep Denmark and Iceland at bay but after the win over Belarus, defender Timm Klose was quick to praise every member of the team for their work in maintaining the impeccable record. “We stood really well together as a team. We didn't give them too many chances. I must congratulate the whole side, not only the defence,” said the centre-back. “When you do not concede a goal, it starts with the forwards. It worked out for us.”
Klose’s view was shared by Admir Mehmedi, who struck twice early in Saturday’s win. “I must congratulate the whole team. We played well tonight; we deserved to have another clean sheet. We have won the group with nine points and haven't conceded. It doesn't get better than that.”
So far in the competition Tami has not been afraid of changing personal between games and will be forced into at least one change for the semi-final with the Czech Republic. Granit Xhaka, so impressive in the centre of midfield so far in the tournament, is suspended thanks to the two yellow cards he picked up during the group stage.
“I feel really bad for him, I think he's very important for the team,” admitted Klose, “It's too bad for him but we have enough good players on the bench. They are looking forward to this semi-final and I think we can replace any player.”
Whoever replaces Xhaka will be placed into a team full of confidence and midfielder Fabian Frei believes the single-mindedness within the squad stems from the 2009 FIFA under-17 World Cup that Switzerland enjoyed. “Before that tournament, no one thought Switzerland could become World Champions. No one predicted we could win this tournament. After the Under-17 triumph there is a new mentality in Switzerland. Everyone in our country knows we can reach our goals.”