ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) – Switzerland are galvanised and confident of reaching the Euro 2020 semi-finals despite being underdogs against Spain in their last-eight clash on Friday, coach Vladimir Petkovic said.
The Swiss caused the shock of the tournament when they beat world champions France on penalties in the last 16 after fighting back from 3-1 down for a 3-3 draw.
“We have done very well to reach the quarter-finals but we are not content and we are hungry for more,” Petkovic told a news conference on Thursday.
“We know we are playing one of the tournament favourites but we won’t be overwhelmed after eliminating France. We want to go a step further and we’ll be mentally prepared for another massive challenge.”
The Swiss will miss suspended midfielder Granit Xhaka who picked up his second yellow card of the tournament against the French but Petkovic said he had apt replacements on hand.
“Granit’s absence is a setback but I have an idea how we are going to deal with that. In any case, it means everyone else on the pitch has to give 10 percent more because Spain are a great team and they scored 10 goals in their last two games.
“We have to be spot on with anticipating situations and we will certainly have to run more than our opponents because they excel in keeping possession.”
The Spaniards thrashed Slovakia 5-0 in their final group match to reach the last 16 and then beat Croatia 5-3 after extra time in one of the tournament’s most thrilling contests.
Forward Xherdan Shaqiri, who netted a superb brace in Switzerland’s 3-1 group stage win over Turkey, said they must prevent Spain from dominating.
“We’ve shown many times that we’re capable of scoring against top teams and we will try to do the same against Spain by taking the game to them.
“If we play at the top of our limits like we did against France, anything is possible. It doesn’t matter if I score or not, the only thing that’s important is to help the team.”
The winners will meet either Belgium or Italy at Wembley on Tuesday for a berth in the July 11 final at the same venue.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)