Shaqiri : “He has the ability to change the outcome of a game at any time,” Christian Fassnacht said after Xherdan Shaqiri emphasised his continued importance to Switzerland.
Xherdan Shaqiri, a veteran winger, has been praised for bringing X-factor to the team.
Shaqiri is one of three Swiss players who have set World Cup appearance records. Switzerland will face Portugal in the round of 16 on Tuesday.
Switzerland has advanced to the last 16 of the FIFA World CupTM for the third time in a row. And in the aftermath of Friday’s 3-2 victory over Serbia, their players cited a couple of reasons for their continued consistency at this level.
The first was a group effort. “This team has been together for a long time now and there’s a real sense of solidarity in the group,”. Goalkeeper Gregor Kobel said as the dust settled on a frantic encounter. We have some experienced players on the team, and what distinguishes us is our ability to recover from defeat.”
Another reason given was the form of a key player, winger Xherdan Shaqiri. “He brings something extra to our game and is incredibly important to us,” said Christian Fassnacht. A late substitute on the night. He contributed to all three goals, and you could see his abilities and inspiration. You know he can change the outcome of a game at any time.”
Prior to the tournament, there was considerable concern in the Swiss media about Shaqiri’s fitness, and with reason. The 31-year-old had not played a competitive match since early October, when he joined the Chicago Fire in the MLS.
Following the end of the US season. He worked on his fitness with FC Lugano in Switzerland, albeit without any match practise. Indeed, Shaqiri made his debut in the national team’s final pre-World Cup friendly against Ghana. Where he failed to impress in a 2-0 loss.
Coach Murat Yakin, on the other hand, had complete faith in the 31-year-old. “What’s important for him is to be healthy, and if he is. Then he has to be on the field from the beginning, because not only does he have that touch of magic. But he’s also extremely important for us physically,” he said before the tournament. Shaqiri, who, along with Granit Xhaka and Ricardo Rodriguez. Set a Swiss record with 11 World Cup appearances, repaid his coach’s faith against Serbia.
The pocket rocket (who stands only 1.70 metres tall) scored the opening goal for Switzerland. Becoming the country’s first player to score in three World Cups. He then played key roles in the goals scored by Breel Embolo and Remo Freuler.
“We’re so glad we got him – he’s such an important player for us,” Embolo said later. “He proved his worth again today, demonstrating that he can seize an opportunity at any time.” A fit Xherdan Shaqiri would help any team progress, and we’re thrilled to have him on our side.”
He’s hungry for more, as evidenced by his irritated reaction to being replaced in the 70th minute. And he isn’t the only one who wishes for more. “We seem to have faced them a lot in recent years. They’re a very dangerous team and we can’t afford to make any mistakes against them,” captain Xhaka said ahead of a last-16 meeting with Portugal.
“If we can play like we did today, with everyone fighting hard for one another and putting in the hard yards. We’ll be able to shake up some of the really big teams.”