The Swiss national football team will take part in a World Cup or European Championship finals for the sixth time in a row. Nevertheless, the mood around the team is clouded. “We qualified, we can be proud and happy, but less about how,” said captain Granit Xhaka on Saturday after a 1-1 draw against Kosovo, which was enough for early qualification but at the same time continued an unsatisfactory trend. It was the fifth draw in the last six games for national coach Murat Yakin’s ensemble – they lost a lead in all five points split.
Just last Wednesday, the Swiss had “completely lost organization” against Israel, as goalkeeper Yann Sommer complained, and only played 1-1. And the Swiss lost the thread again against Kosovo: after taking the lead shortly after the break, they conceded a goal in the final phase. “Unfortunately there’s a bit of a problem,” said defender Nico Elvedi after the final whistle. It shouldn’t happen that you keep conceding a goal right before the end, said the Borussia Mönchengladbach professional.
The 1-1 draw against Kosovo was symptomatic of Switzerland’s current constitution. It has been confirmed “that the team is stagnating and seems as if the joy of the game has been taken away from them in the last few months,” commented the The New Zurich Times. With the goal, the team once again left an impression of “confusion and disorientation”.
“It hasn’t been about sport for a long time,” complains coach Yakin
Although national coach Murat Yakin has led Switzerland to the World Cup in Qatar since he took office in August 2021 and to the round of 16 there, secured their stay in the Nations League and has now bought their ticket to the European Championship early, he is counted. The Daily Gazette headlined after the 1-1 draw against Israel: “There can be no future with Yakin.” The View also gave the assessment despite the European Championship qualification being sealedthat “a change at the top” is needed.
The air is getting thinner for the Swiss national coach. The recent draw against Kosovo contributed to this. With the successful qualification for the European Championships, Yakin’s contract was automatically extended until after the European Championships. “Nevertheless, after these ten qualifying games we will analyze the state of affairs and, above all, assess the team’s development,” said national team director Pierluigi Tami. That development was no longer noticeable in the past games.
There are also rumors of a poor relationship between Yakin and captain Granit Xhaka after Xhaka criticized the training sessions in September. Yakin vehemently rejected the allegations on Saturday evening in the SRF studio and said: “It’s no longer about sport for a long time. I think this is a personal reckoning from some media people who probably have the feeling that there is something wrong between me and Granit “Not. That’s absolutely not true.” He and Xhaka had “a great exchange”. His captain is “a top footballer who always wants to win, and that’s an absolute blessing,” enthused Yakin.
Captain Xhaka has to play in an unfamiliar position
But at the same time, the discussions are fueled by Xhaka’s position in the national team. Yakin gave Denis Zakaria the role of defensive midfielder against Kosovo. This Xhaka successfully played for Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen. Xhaka, who moved to the left of midfield, said afterwards: “The coach has seen how dominant I am in my position at the club. But he decides where the players play, that’s not my job.” He didn’t want to add fuel to the fire and made it clear: “It’s up to every player to perform in the position specified by the coach.” According to the Leverkusen player, there is no problem with Yakin. It was “the wrong time to talk about it” anyway, said Xhaka.
There is still one game left in qualifying group I. Switzerland will play away in Bucharest against league leaders Romania on Tuesday (8:45 p.m.) and need three points to win the group. The result will not only provide information about which draw pot Switzerland will end up in for the European Championship draw (December 2nd), but also how Yakin and the Swiss Football Association will approach the joint discussions.