Rumori di Spogliatoio

'La Nati', a profile of the Swiss national team - by Ugo Curty

Angelo PalmeriComment
A shark fin is the Sharkfoot trademark for French speaking news and insight on 'Le Foot' (Facebook page)

A shark fin is the Sharkfoot trademark for French speaking news and insight on 'Le Foot' (Facebook page)

As it's fashion, Rumori networks with other football journalists and writers from all over Europe to bring you the best preview, insights and opinion on upcoming international events.

As we helped Sharkfoot readers to understand better the Estonian national team (in English) ahead of Switzerland-Estonia, Ugo Curty (freelance journalist at Sharkfoot based in Lausanne) helped us taking a look at 'La Nati'.

Sharkfoot is a French-speaking online magazine taking a special look at francophone football and the rest of the world.

Another preview in French language about Petkovic's squad is available here by David Grosvernier if you want to practice your French reading skills.

Have a good reading!


ONLY VICTORY MATTERS FOR SWITZERLAND AGAINST ESTONIA

After two defeats at the beginning of the European campaign, Switzerland wasted its two jokers. The team of coach Petkovic has no choice but to win in Luzern.

« We want to win. We have to and we will do it. » Vladimir Petkovic did not leave at room for the doubt in his first press conference in Feusisberg. The new national coach is aware of the strong expectancies the national team has to carry since he replaced Ottmar Hitzfeld.



Hitzfeld’s legacy

 
Results under Hitzfeld directions were good. Will Petkovic take the legacy? (Daily Telegraph)

Results under Hitzfeld directions were good. Will Petkovic take the legacy? (Daily Telegraph)

Hitzfeld remained for 6 years (2008-2014) at the head of the « Nati ».

The famous German trainer brought a philosophy of excellence and requirement.

The former boss of Bayern München designed a team with a well-prepared tactic. Under his reign, Switzerland participated to the 2010 and 2014 World Cup (while missing the 2012 Euro championship). In South Africa, the Swiss beat Spain, who would conquer the world title few weeks later, in the game that entered in the country’s history (0-1). The only goal of the game was realised by Gelson Fernandes, who plays for Rennes in France and is still part of the team.

After this exploit that raised all kind of hopes, Switzerland disappointed. A frustrating lost against Chile and a shameful draw against Honduras sent the boys back after the first round. The hit was hard to receive. The failed qualifying for the Euro in Ukraine and Poland that followed did not help to recover. Switzerland participated since Portugal 2004 to 4 final round of international championships (the 2008 Euro was organized by Switzerland and Austria). The record went to an end and let a whole country hangover.

The Brazilian World Cup offered a farewell gift to Ottmar Hitzfeld who retired since then. Beside a dreadful loss against the French neighbor (2-5), Captain Inler and his squad were able to escape of the Ecuador trap (1-2 with a second goal in the final minute by Haris Seferovic) and blow out Honduras thanks to a hat trick from Xherdan Shaqiri, the Swiss MVP.

The dream of a quarterfinal vanished after an Homeric clash against the, soon to be finalist, Argentina. The Swiss hold Messi & Co in respect until the end of the overtime. A rush of Leo and Di Maria was enough to destroy the European resistance. The disappointment was stronger due to intimate conviction that the Red and White were close to create the biggest of this Mundial, 4 years after the victory against Spain in South Africa.



Petkovic, a new era

 
Aftern making a name at Lazio in Serie A, Petkovic took the challenge of the national team coach (UEFA.com)

Aftern making a name at Lazio in Serie A, Petkovic took the challenge of the national team coach (UEFA.com)

The next objective of Switzerland is now to qualify for the Euro championship. Everything did not go as planned after a logical defeat against England at home (0-2) and disappointing failure in Slovenia (1-0). The Swiss responded well by winning in San-Marino and against Lithuania before the Winter. With the Spring coming, the whole country is waiting for the Renaissance of its national team, under the orders of Vladimir Petkovic.

The coach, whose name come from Bosnian origins, speaks 3 national languages and showed strong signs of conviction since he arrived at the ASF. He placed the team in a 4-3-3 system that he manages well, especially since he passed 2 years on the bench of Lazio from Rome, in Serie A. Italy discovered a man with a high esteem of discipline, tactic and spectacular game. In his 4-3-3 system, a team of regulars has appeared.

After Diego Benaglio retirement last summer, Yann Sommer is the new number 1 goalie. The former player of Basel is now discovering the Bundesliga with Bayern Mönchengladbach. He is definitively one of the most promising goalkeepers in the Old Continent.

In front of him, the two corner-backs has two solid values in the European football. On the left, Michael Rodriguez is charming the whole Germany weekend after weekend thanks to his performances with the Wolfsburg jersey. On the other hand, Stephan Lichtsteiner imposed himself in the best team in Italy, the Turin Juventus and conquered 3 national titles in a row.

 

A captain in danger

The weakness of this defense has to be found in the central pair. Johan Djourou (Hamburg) has been often injured while Steve Von Bergen (Young Boys Bern), who played in Bundesliga and Serie A, is feeling the weight of the years on his shoulders. The promising Fabian Schär (FC Basel) is still capable of some mistakes, which can be of high risks at the international level.

In the midfield, Gökhan Inler (SSC Napoli) is going through a difficult time in Naples. Collateral victim of Benitez’s turnover, the captain is threatened by young colleagues such as Fabian Frei (FC Basel), Granit Xhaka (Bayern Möchengladbach) or his former teammate in Italy, Blerim Dzemaili (Galatasaray). The unstoppable warrior Valon Behrami (Hamburg) is a hard worker in the defensive work; the heart of the swiss team.

Xherdan Shaqiri (Inter Milan) is the most valuable asset of the Swiss attack. The former player of Bayern Munich is a world-class talent. Spectacular player, he can overturn a game with a single acceleration. Injured in Serie A last week (he returned just for the 1-0 loss at Sampdoria -edit), he could lack of rhythm in the first minutes of the game.

On the front of the attack, two players are in pole position. After a frustrating first half of season, Josip Drmic (Bayer Leverkusen) begins to impose himself in Leverkusen. The striker scored 3 goals in 3 starting games since mid-February in championship. He pushed the German Stefan Kissling on the bench. The other option, if they were not combined on the pitch, would be Haris Seferovic. Goal scorer against Stuttgart last weekend, the U17 World Champion (in 2009 in Nigeria) made proves of his talents during his last appearances under the national jersey. Substitutes like Valentin Stocker (Hertha Berlin), Admir Mehmedi (SC Freiburg) or Pajtim Kasimi (Olympiakos) could be helpful in the last third of the games against Estonia. Switzerland has the weapons to be a dangerous opponent.

In Switzerland, anything but a victory against Estonia would be a great disappointment, specially regarding the two initials loss against England and Slovenia. 

By Ugo Curty

Precedents between Switzerland and Estonia here by Angelo Palmeri