Vladimir Petkovic has announced his final 23-man Switzerland squad for this summer’s European Championships in France.
The Swiss qualified for the tournament having finished runners-up in Group E, behind England, but are considered one of the dark horses of the tournament and have included the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and new Arsenal signing, Granit Xhaka, in their squad.
Petkovic looking to blend youth and experience
Petkovic has offered a couple of surprising additions to his 23-man squad, such as including three teenagers. Basel forward Breel Embolo was expected to travel to France but Nico Elvedi and Denis Zakaria have also been added, having only made their international debuts in Saturday’s defeat to Belgium.
Zakaria, 19, plays his football for Swiss side Young Boys and takes the place of omitted Leicester City midfielder, Gokhan Inler, who Petkovic feared had not had enough game time for the Premier League champions. Meanwhile, fellow 19-year-old, Elvedi, plays for German Bundesliga club Borussia Monchengladbach.
Experienced defenders Stephan Lichtsteiner and Johan Djourou will complement the fresh additions, as will 32-year-old Watford midfielder, Valon Behrami, and former Manchester City midfielder Gelson Fernandes. The quartet have amassed a combined 255 caps for their country.
Senderos an eye-opening omission
Petkovic has unexpectedly left out former Arsenal defender Philippe Senderos, who was named in the provisional squad. The Rossocrociati coach explained in his press conference that his decision was based on the fact that there has supposedly “not been very nice feelings” for the defender at his current club, Grasshoppers. Left-back Silvan Widmer and midfielder Luca Zuffi were also omitted from the provisional squad.
Petkovic said he felt he had “two players in his (Widmer) position who were stronger”, while Zuffi would have found it “difficult” to find his best form at the tournament having been “very tired” when he joined the squad for their pre-tournament training camp.
Switzerland have been grouped with hosts France, as well as Romania and Albania – making up the rest of Group A. Petkovic’s side will feel they have a strong chance of qualifying for the round of 16, but may have to rely on beating Romania and Albania, due to France almost certain to top the group unbeaten.
Having failed to qualify for the tournament four years ago, Switzerland will need all the quality at their disposal to make sure it turns out to be a much more memorable effort this time around.
They start the tournament on the 11 June, against Albania in Lens, before taking on Romania in Paris four days later and then the hosts in Lille on 19 June.
Goalkeepers: Roman Burki (Borussia Dortmund), Mawin Hitz (Augsburg), Yann Sommer (Borussia Monchengladbach).
Defenders: Johan Djourou (Hamburg), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Mochengladbach), Michael Lang (Basel), Stephan Lichsteiner (Juventus), Francois Moubandje (Toulouse), Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Fabian Schar (Hoffenheim), Steve von Bergen (Young Boys).
Midfielders: Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Gelson Fernandes (Rennes), Valon Behrami (Watford), Blerim Dzemaili (Genoa), Fabian Frei (Mainz), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City), Denis Zakaria (Young Boys).
Forwards: Eren Derdiyok (Kasimpasa), Admir Mehmedi (Bayer Leverkusen), Breel Embolo (Basel), Haris Seferovic (Frankfurt), Shani Tarashaj (Grasshoppers).