Switzerland looking to upset odds at Nations League finals

Switzerland are looking to spring a surprise in this summer’s Nations League finals.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at Vladimir Petkovic’s side ahead of their June 5 semi-final clash against hosts Portugal.

HISTORY

Switzerland beat Northern Ireland in a play-off to reach last year's World Cup in Russia
Switzerland beat Northern Ireland in a play-off to reach last year’s World Cup in Russia (Niall Carson/PA)

The Swiss have never won a major trophy in their footballing history. Their best performance at the World Cup was reaching the quarter-final stage, although the last of those three appearances came in 1954. They did, though, reach the last-16 in the most recent editions in Brazil and Russia, where last year they bowed out to Sweden following a narrow 1-0 defeat. Reaching the round of 16 three years ago was their best European Championship performance.

REACHING THE NATIONS LEAGUE FINALS

Petkovic’s men progressed to Portugal in eye-catching fashion as they topped their group ahead of World Cup bronze medallists Belgium and Euro 2016 surprise package Iceland. Xherdan Shaqiri netted a hat-trick as they kicked off Group A2 with a 6-0 thrashing of Iceland in St Gallen, before falling to a late 2-1 loss against the Belgians. A 2-1 win in Iceland gave the Swiss hope that looked to have been all but extinguished within 17 minutes of their decider against Belgium in Lucerne. Yet the Swiss showed they had talent to match their determination and roared back from two goals down to win 5-2 and seal a scarcely believable progress. They drew 3-3 with Denmark in a Euro 2020 qualifier last time out and lost 1-0 to England in a friendly in September.

PLAYERS

Xherdan Shaqiri
Xherdan Shaqiri is one of Switzerland’s big attacking threats (Mike Egerton/PA)

Shaqiri has long been the star of the Swiss camp, but the fact Liverpool play against Tottenham in the Champions League final just days before their semi-final could well impact the attacking midfielder’s availability and fitness. Borussia Dortmund’s Manuel Akanji and former Newcastle man Kevin Mbabu are talented defenders, while the likes of AC Milan’s Ricardo Rodriguez and Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka bring nous. Breel Embolo and Haris Seferovic are attacking threats on their day.