Philippe Senderos is determined to banish the demons of a traumatic end to his season with Arsenal by leading Switzerland into the knockout stages of Euro 2008.
Having started in scintillating fashion, Arsenal wilted at the business end of the campaign and Senderos had to endure being widely identified as one of the weak links that had contributed to the failure of Arsene Wenger's squad to secure any silverware.
An error-strewn performance in Arsenal's Champions League quarter-final second leg defeat by Liverpool at Anfield in April particularly damaged the 23-year-old centreback's reputation, and he recognises he has something to prove over the next few weeks on his native turf.
“On a personal level it would be good to have a good tournament and definitely for the whole country,” Senderos said as the Swiss squad put the finishing touches to their preparations for the opening match of the tournament, against the Czech Republic in Basel on Saturday.
“To finish the season without a trophy – obviously that is something that is difficult to live with at a club like Arsenal.”
With Wenger under pressure to put a new centreback at the top of his summer shopping list, the defender is aware that a few strong performances here could go a long way towards persuading the Arsenal manager to keep faith with a player whose talent he has nurtured since he signed him as a 17-year-old.
Senderos insists that such concerns will not affect him as he seeks to help the co-hosts avoid the disappointment of failing to progress from a group that also includes Portugal and Turkey.
Although they are ranked below all three of their group A rivals, the Swiss will take heart from their performances at the 2006 World Cup, where they bowed out after losing a second round penalty shoot-out to Ukraine in a match which saw Senderos stretchered off with a dislocated shoulder.
“We have got high hopes but we know we are a small country and we still have a lot to do to battle for trophies with the national team,” he said.
“The first game is massive and we have to concentrate on that, then go from there.
“But I think we have reasons to believe we can do it. We have had very good results in the last few years in competitions. To go out of the World Cup without conceding a goal was a great achievement for us so hopefully we can build on that and continue.”
Having being given a torrid time by Didier Drogba in Arsenal's meetings with Chelsea in recent seasons, Senderos knows he is vulnerable to accusations that he can be outmuscled by opponents, both on the ground and in the air.
On that score, Saturday's head-to-head with Jan Koller offers an opportunity to deliver a riposte to his critics, although he insists he cannot take sole responsibility for keeping tabs on the giant Czech striker.
“Koller is a physical player and we know we are going to have to be ready,” Senderos said. “He is the focal point for them up front and we know we have to cut out the crosses so that he does not get any service.”
The defender feels for Arsenal team-mate, Tomas Rosicky, who is missing the tournament through injury, but admits that the absence of the Czech captain can only help the Swiss cause.
“For them it is a big blow because Tomas is a very creative player,” Senderos said. “He is THE creative player for them in midfield. They have a lot of players with other qualities but obviously Tomas Rosicky is one of the best of them.”
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