Switzerland look set to take next step at Euro 2016


Granit Xhaka will b a key play for the Swiss at Euro. (Darko Bandic/AP)

Switzerland has never reached the knockout stage of the European Championship. However, thanks to a reformatted tournament structure and a talented generation of players, the Swiss look set to take the next step at Euro 2016.

Goalkeepers: Yann Sommer (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Roman Buerki (Borussia Dortmund), Marwin Hitz (Augsburg).
Defenders: Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Michael Lang (Basel), Johan Djourou (Hamburger SV), Steve von Bergen (Young Boys), Fabian Schaer (Hoffenheim), Francois Moubandje (Toulouse), Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg).
Midfielders: Valon Behrami (Watford), Blerim Dzemaili (Genoa), Gelson Fernandes (Rennes), Fabian Frei (Mainz), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke), Denis Zakaria (Young Boys).
Forwards: Breel Embolo (Basel), Haris Seferovic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Admir Mehmedi (Bayer Leverkusen), Eren Derdiyok (Kasimpasa), Shani Tarashaj (Everton).

A veteran coach who plied his trade in the Swiss Super League, Vladimir Petkovic took over the national team after the 2014 World Cup. Petkovic was previously the manager at Lazio, where he won the Coppa Italia in 2013 and guided the club to the Europa League that same year.

4-2-3-1 – (GK) Sommer – (D) Rodriguez, Schaer, Djourou, Lichtsteiner – (DM) Dzemaili, Behrami – (AMC) Mehmedi, Xhaka, Shaqiri – (F) Seferovic

MORE ON EURO 2016: Sportsnet has you covered with in-depth coverage of Euro 2016 in France, which runs from June 10 to July 10.

Match schedule || Group standings || Live scoreboard || Roster lists
Profiles: All 24 teams || History of Euro || Top 10 moments in Euro history

June 11: vs. Albania in Lens
June 15: vs. Romania in Paris
June 19: vs. France in Lille

The Swiss only lost three games in qualifying, two of which were against England. They still managed to finish in second place (behind the Three Lions) in Group E on 21 points to automatically progress to Euro 2016.

Switzerland’s width is deadly—its full backs are one of its strengths. Stephan Lichtsteiner and Ricardo Rodriguez are one of the top pairings in the tournament. Both defenders love to be involved in the attack but they’re also defensively responsible, so they are the keys for the Swiss.

There is no recognized goal-scoring striker. Haris Seferovic and Josip Drmic are Switzerland’s best options but they only combined to score five league goals in the Bundesliga this past season. Midfielders Blerim Dzemaili, Valon Behrami and Granit Xhaka are also undisciplined, so that could be an issue for the Swiss.

Yann Sommer: The Borussia Monchengladbach goalkeeper replaced long-time No. 1 Diego Benaglio, who retired from international duty. The 27-year-old enjoyed a fantastic season for Gladbach and will be looking to build on that success in France.

Fabian Schaer: Schaer is one of Switzerland’s brightest young players. He became a starter with Basel at 21 years old and his stock has risen ever since. The centre back was average in his first season with Hoffenheim, but he has been tremendous for his country and will surely replicate that form at Euro 2016.

Granit Xhaka: Xhaka recently signed for Arsenal for a reported fee of £30 million ($57 million) and for good reason. The 23-year-old is a strong box-to-box presence who can create chances and break up any onrushing attacks. Discipline is a problem but he is a game-changer, which is what Switzerland needs.

Can the Swiss get goals from their forwards? Seferovic and Drmic are not in top form, and the latter hardly played for Gladbach and Hamburg during the Bundesliga season. This didn’t hamper Switzerland during qualifying and likely won’t during the group stage either, but it may become a worry if it progresses to the round of 16 and beyond.

Albania and Romania are newcomers to the European Championship, so Switzerland should progress to the knockout stage. If France goes on to win Group A, the Swiss will likely finish in second, and could draw one of Poland or Ukraine in the round of 16. If that is the case, then a quarterfinal is a reasonable objective.


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