Vladimir Petković confident ahead of crucial Belgium game

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Switzerland manager Vladimir Petković is optimistic ahead of Switzerland’s clash with Belgium, as they face off in the UEFA Nations League on Sunday evening.

The match is the last to be played in Group A2, with the two sides fighting for a place in next year’s Nations League Finals. Qualification is still in sight for the Swiss, who need to win in Luzern to achieve this.

Petković was speaking in his pre-match press conference yesterday, alongside Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka. As quoted by the SFV, he said: “We want this first place because we want to play a big tournament with other top teams next June. 

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Vladimir Petković in training ahead of the Belgium game. (Keystone)

“I have the best 23 Swiss players in the squad and I have great confidence in all of them.”

The squad has been plagued with injury, with Stephan Lichtsteiner, Roman Bürki, Manuel Akanji, Ricardo Rodríguez and Breel Embolo all withdrawing. As well as this, Fabian Schär’s suspension means that their entire regular backline will be unavailable.

Switzerland come off the back of a poor display, as Qatar secured a surprise 1-0 win in Lugano. It was a rare poor performance that gives little confidence to the Schweizer Nati.

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Akram Afif slotting past Yvon Mvogo to secure a 1-0 win for Qatar. (Blick, Toto Marti)

Referencing to the Qatar game, Petković added: “Everything is possible in football. That’s what Qatar showed on Wednesday. ”

Switzerland have been unlucky against some of Europe’s best, narrowly losing to England and Belgium in recent months. Granit Xhaka spoke about beating the big teams, saying: “It’s time to hit a big one, it’s about time.”

Xhaka has been captain for Switzerland in recent games, despite facing criticism due to his Albanian roots. This included being slammed by former Swiss international Stéphane Henchoz, who said he ‘doesn’t represent Switzerland’.

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Granit Xhaka on the ball in Switzerland’s 1-0 defeat to Qatar. (Blick, Toto Marti)

Xherdan Shaqiri also spoke ahead of Sunday’s game, saying: “Of course Belgium are the favorites, but a month ago in Brussels we showed that we can annoy and cause trouble for the world’s No. 1.

“Now we are doing everything in Luzern in a full stadium in a great atmosphere to finish our football year top.”

 

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