When a national team is being mocked in adverts, it would be safe to assume that confidence is not very high heading into a major tournament. So co-hosts Switzerland’s hopes going into Euro 2008 might be best summed up in a poster from a Swiss rail company which says: “At least the Swiss are best at something” as a train speeds past a footballer.
‘Kobi’ Kuhn, who has already announced he will step down after the tournament, has built a solid side but it looks lacking in any real flair or experience. His belief in blooding young players does him credit, and two of those — Tranquillo Barnetta and Eren Derdiyok — could surprise the defenders from the Czech Republic, Portugal and Turkey, all of whom Switzerland will face in Group A.
Little is expected from this side because they struggle to score goals, but the Turkey game is likely to have some extra spice as the pair clash for the first time since the Swiss won a play-off to qualify for the 2006 World Cup, with the second-leg in Turkey ending in violence.
Switzerland have tasted little success on the international stage and, although they have reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup on three occasions, the last time they managed it was in 1954. Indeed, the Swiss did not qualify for a major tournament for 28 years following their first round exit at the 1966 World Cup, so reaching three successive Finals — even if they qualified for this tournament by virtue of being hosts — is to be celebrated.
The Swiss performed better than expected in the 2006 World Cup, their solid defence ensuring that a moment of magic or, more often, a well-rehearsed set piece, was enough to see them through to the second round. A lack of creativity could well be their undoing in this tournament, however.
A credible pre-tournament friendly defeat to England at Wembley raised expectations slightly, but a crushing 4- 0 home loss to Germany has seen predictions revised. Victory over Turkey is eminently possible, but it will be a major achievement if Kuhn’s men can relegate either the Czech Republic or Portugal into third place in the group.
Switzerland Euro 2008 Squad
Head coach: Köbi Kuhn
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