The first of Ireland’s warm-up games for EURO 2016 sees Switzerland arrive at the Aviva Stadium. @aulit_z of @FootballSwiss has the low-down on the visitors, their prospects for this summer’s finals, and the view on the Boys in Green.
The Irish team is well liked in Switzerland. The Irish in general are well liked. I think this stems from a respect towards the Irish fans and from a certain enjoyment of the football the national team displayed during the qualification phase.
Also, whenever the Irish visited us, it was one big party. The last time was in 2004 during the World Cup qualification. I remember this well because I was at this game in Basel. We celebrated with a group of Irish fans for hours after the game. They also created a good atmosphere during the match. Something that isn’t common for national team matches here. I am sure there are some Swiss who will adopt Ireland as their second team during the EUROs.
From what I’ve gathered, the general feeling among Swiss fans for the finals themselves is that the team should reach the next stage. Certainly Albania will be a key game. Not only because of the strength of their team, but also because a lot of Swiss players have Albanian ancestors. There could even be a Xhaka-duel, as Granit plays for Switzerland and his older brother, Taulant, lines out for Albania. With wins against Albania and Romania, we could advance to the next round. But Romania is another strong team in the group. It will certainly be interesting to see how the team blends together. We have a group of very talented individuals, but the big question is always how they play as a team? If they find themselves, the next stage should be on the cards. If not, an early exit is possible.
Now if I had to choose 3 important players for us at the moment, they would be Lichtsteiner, Granit Xhaka and Shaqiri. Lichtsteiner will almost certainly captain the Swiss team for the EUROs. Xhaka will be the boss in midfield and, due to the lack of quality strikers, Shaqiri will be our main threat.
As for the Irish team, I think they can be considered the weakest in their group. Maybe on par with Sweden, but without a true standout player like Zlatan. They could certainly be the surprise team of their group. I don’t think Belgium is as good as their hype. They seem to have the same problem as Switzerland: lots of great individuals, but not much of a team. Something you certainly cannot say about the Irish. Me personally, I’m quite optimistic that Ireland can snatch a win and a draw and be in contention for the next stage. And I am also in anticipation of your great fans at the EUROs.
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