Fabian Schar is pleased to have the emotional weight of Switzerland’s Group A opener against Albania in the past as they attempt to secure a place in the knockout stages of Euro 2016 versus Romania.
Schar’s early header was enough to secure a 1-0 win at Lens’ Stade Bollaert-Deleis, which enjoyed one of the most memorable atmospheres of the fledgling tournament.
Six members of the Albania squad were born in Switzerland and the match featured the unusual spectacle of brothers Granit and Taulant Xhaka facing each other on opposing sides.
Switzerland struggled for fluency and could not further punish their opponents after Lorik Cana’s first-half red card, while Vladimir Petkovic’s men were indebted to goalkeeper Yann Sommer for a pair of stunning saves to deny Albania a point.
Speaking at a news conference ahead taking on Romania at Parc des Princes on Wednesday, Schar conceded his colleagues were eager to draw a line under Saturday’s contest.
“There was a lot of pressure, we are delighted to have put the match against the Albanians behind us,” he said.
“After the early goal we made the mistake to get them back into the game. It is true that we had chances to score the 2-0, but we failed.”
A tale of missed chances is certainly familiar to Romania following their opening night loss to France.
Bogdan Stancu cancelled out Olivier Giroud’s opener with a 65th-minute penalty before Dimitri Payet’s sensational late winner, but the Genclerbirligi forward passed up a pair of glorious opportunities at the start of each half that might have wholly altered the complexion of the contest at the Stade de France.
Centre-back Dragos Grigore knows there are further tough moments ahead in the group but believes UEFA’s new 24-team format means it is not a case of all-or-nothing against Switzerland.
“There will be two matches as difficult as that against France,” Grigore told a news conference.
“The match with Switzerland is important, but do not think it is decisive. We will enter the field thinking to win this game. We know it will be difficult but at the end of the match I hope we can enjoy.
“Of course, in the next period after the game, you remember every phase of the game, but trying to move on as quickly as possible. Unfortunately we did not put up any points.
“I hope that at the end of the competition Romanians will be proud of our team.”
As Anghel Iordanescu’s team took the host to the brink on the opening night, Schar was a keen and impressed observer.
“We have seen what they are capable, it is not easy to play against them,” he added. “We are expecting a tough game.”
Key Opta stats:
– Romania and Switzerland are finely balanced across their previous encounters with five wins apiece and two draws.
– Switzerland’s 4-1 win over Romania in the 1994 World Cup is the only previous instance of these teams facing off at the finals stage of a major competition. Anghel Iordanescu was the Romania coach – the first of his three spells in charge.
– Romania have only won one of their 14 games at the European Championships, a 3-2 win over England at Euro 2000.
– In the opening game against France, Romania conceded as many goals as they did over the whole qualifying campaign for Euro 2016.
– Xherdan Shaqiri has had a hand in nine goals in his last eight competitive appearances for Switzerland (five goals, four assists).