Xhaka and Shaqiri carry Switzerland’s European Cup hopes


With the same Albanian roots, fighting spirit and artistry, two stars Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, Wednesday, against Italy in the second round of the group stage of the European Cup, carry the hopes of multicultural Switzerland, which is determined to go far in the major tournaments.”We want to make history and I think it’s the right moment,” Xhaka said bravely before the start of the European Cup, emphasizing the ambition of “Nati”, the title of the Swiss team, to reach the price of the final, its ceiling during the last two editions of the 2014 and 2018 World Cup and the last edition of the World Cup. Europe 2016.

Switzerland squandered a win within reach on Saturday to launch its fifth participation in the continental wedding, with three points and fell into the trap of a 1-1 draw against Wales, to put themselves in a difficult situation as they have to resist the wonderful Italy at home on Wednesday, and then beat Turkey on Sunday to ensure they pass the first round for the first time. The second in its history after the first in the last version, when it came out of the final price.

Coach Vladimir Petkovic relies on two key men in the Swiss squad for 10 years, both of whom passed through the Basel team, the German League, before landing in the English Premier League, but they are completely different on the field.

Xhaka, the former captain of Arsenal and the captain of his country, plays the role of linking the defense and attack lines thanks to his impressive height (1.85 m). At the age of twenty-eight, he excels with the accuracy of his passes from the left and the power of his long shots more than his defensive coverage.

On the other hand, Shaqiri (29 years old), whose physique is similar to a quarter (1.69 m), likes to disturb the defense lines with his evasions on the right side. He is able to score great goals, such as his acrobatic shot against Poland in the 16th European Cup final.

In the name of the father

Even before their sports careers intersected, their personal story brings them together as symbols of a Switzerland reshaped by political and economic immigration and which includes a quarter of foreigners on its soil.

If Xhaka was born in Basel, his father “was the pride of Kosovo”, forced to flee the former Yugoslavia in 1990 after spending three and a half years behind bars for participating in a demonstration against communist power, the Arsenal midfielder told the newspaper in 2017. The Guardian.

He added, “The first months in prison were fine. But then the strikes started,” explaining that he “growed up with the mental strength” of his father as a role model, just like his older brother Taulant, a midfielder for Basel and Albania.

Shaqiri, for his part, was born in present-day Kosovo, a year before his parents went to Basel, where they washed dishes in restaurants, worked in construction workshops and cleaned to make up for their ignorance of Swiss German and sent money to the soon-to-be war-stricken country.

Shaqiri admitted in 2018 to The Players Tribune, saying: “In the old house, with no heating other than a heater, little Sheridan was running like crazy so he wouldn’t get too cold and at the age of seven he received an affordable original of Ronaldo’s Brazilian shirt. “.

He added, “I was the only immigrant in my school, and I don’t think Swiss children understood why I was obsessed with football. In Switzerland, football is just a sport, not as vital as in other countries.”

Provocation and fine

They played together in the ranks of Basel, and their star emerged in the old continent barely after adolescence, when the Swiss club qualified in December 2011 to the Champions League final price at the expense of Manchester United.

The following summer, Xhaka moved to the ranks of Borussia Monchengladbach, where he initially had problems adapting before being awarded the captain’s armband, before imposing himself in the ranks of Arsenal since 2016 despite the criticism of the Gunners fans for his loss of his nerve and the ball.

On the other hand, Shaqiri, who played for a period of his career with Bayern Munich, witnessed a less glamorous rise: he started with great fanfare at the Bavarian club before finding himself on the bench, spending half a season at Inter, before being reborn in Stoke City. The Englishman, who was his gateway to Liverpool in 2018, in the role of the Joker.

The two stars sparked widespread controversy in the 2018 World Cup in Russia when they turned Switzerland’s delay against Serbia in the first round to a 2-1 victory in the last seconds with a goal by Shaqiri who then headed towards the Serbian fans, and placed his hands on his chest in the opposite direction, drawing the black “double eagle” badge, The symbol of Albania, which is in the middle of its red flag. He was preceded by the first goal scorer, Xhaka.

FIFA downplayed the incident despite Belgrade’s wrath, and only imposed a small fine, but Switzerland then questioned the loyalty of its dual-nationals, who had become a majority within Nati.

Three years later, the weight on their shoulders is only an athlete: Luton finally writes that Natty, after a decade of development and disappointed hopes, is dreaming of a first quarter-final in the continental championship to start his “crazy years”.


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