When Switzerland take on Belarus in St. Gallen on Sunday, all eyes will be on Granit Xhaka. The captain appears calm ahead of his record-breaking match.
Xhaka said in the media conference at Kebonpark the day before his 118th international match that he wanted to enjoy the match and end it with a positive result. In St. Gallen, the 31-year-old will tie Swiss record holder Heinz Herrmann. “Playing so many matches for the country where I was born and raised makes me very proud.”
It has been a long journey since his debut for the national team on June 4, 2011. “This would not have been possible without the support of my teammates, coaches, staff as well as family and friends,” Xhaka said.
It doesn’t have to be over yet
The captain on Saturday did not want to rule out whether his career with the national team could continue until 2028, when the European Championship will be held in Great Britain and Ireland. “I don’t think much about it,” he explained at first. “But that would be the icing on the cake having played my first international match at Wembley when I was 17,” he added. If I could stop there, I would have signed it right away today.
There won’t be any time to celebrate the international cap record after the match. After all, the Swiss national players will soon be back playing for their clubs. Head of Communications Adrian Arnold announced that there would be a tribute from the federation before the match.
Watch the European Championship qualifier match between Switzerland and Belarus live on SRF Channel 2 on Sunday from 5:30 pm. The match kicks off in St. Gallen at 6:00 p.m.
With new old tactics for success
After that, the goal for Belarus is to achieve the “positive result” mentioned by Xhaka. With its victory and 3 points, the Swiss team is a big step closer to the European Championship finals in Germany. Coach Murat Yakin expects an opponent with a similar defensive stance to Andorra. The goal is to break through the defensive block early. “We looked at how we wanted to do it in detail this week and rehearsed it over and over again,” Yakin says confidently.
Nati’s coach previously revealed that he will once again rely on a 4-man series in defense after experimenting with a 3-man series recently. With “more attacking players in front of the ball”, Yakin hopes his well-coached team’s mechanics will take effect from the start and his team can get the ball rolling early.
Beware of Belarus
Neither the coach nor the captain expects a procession similar to what happened in the first leg, with a score of 5-0. Xhaka therefore warned his teammates, saying: “We have to forget that match immediately. On Sunday there will be a completely different team on the field in Belarus than there was at that time. And although they are small, they are also trying to play football. We have to “We are patient and take advantage of our opportunities.” If that works, Xhaka’s record will not be the only reason for a small celebration.
Switzerland: summer; Fernandes, Akanji, Char, Rodriguez; Freuler, Zechariah, Chaka; Shaqiri; Iten, Al-Amdouni.
Belarus: Ignatovic. Polyakov, Volkov, Politeevich, Pechenin; Corson, Ebong; Yuspchuk, Klimovich, Kuntsevoy; Morozov.
“Internet nerd. Avid student. Zombie guru. Tv enthusiast. Coffee advocate. Social media expert. Music geek. Professional food maven. Thinker. Troublemaker.”