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Xhaka sets Swiss target

Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka has challenged his team-mates to achieve the country’s best-ever performance at a European Championship by reaching the quarter-finals.

The 23-year-old warned that his side must not underestimate Group A opponents Albania and Romania, as they look to reach the knock-out stages of the tournament for the first time.

Switzerland must also play tournament hosts France, and Xhaka told UEFA.com: “I agree with those who say France are the favourites, but we cannot underestimate Albania and Romania either.

“They made a lot of progress last year. Albania are taking part for the first time, while Romania are very good defensively and have not lost in years. It’s an interesting group.

“Our first priority is definitely to make it through the group stage. After that you need to have a bit of luck with the draw, but I think with the team we have, we should be able to make it to the quarter-finals.”

Switzerland’s first test comes against Albania in a match that will see Xhaka go head-to-head against his brother, Taulant.

The pair will become the first brothers to face each other in a European Championship match, and Granit said: “My brother and I have a very good relationship. We’re not just brothers but best friends.

“Immediately after the draw was made, we had a weird feeling about it. Both of us were a bit nervous, but we’re both quite relaxed about it now.”

He added: “This is my second big tournament [after World Cup 2014], my first here in France, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Thu 9 Jun, 2016
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