Thursday, July 25, 2024

Shaqiri insists Euro 2024 is not a vacation as fitness doubts dismissed

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 13 Jun 2024

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Xherdan Shaqiri is ready to take centre stage for Switzerland once again as he dismissed doubts about his match fitness ahead of Euro 2024.

Shaqiri, who will feature in his seventh major tournament in Germany, will hope to continue his glistening career with his nation as they kickstart their Group A campaign against Hungary on Saturday.

The 32-year-old has scored or assisted 46 percent of Switzerland’s goals at major tournaments over the last 10 years, becoming only the fifth player to reach 100 caps for his country two years ago.

Despite his experience, coach Murat Yakin has questioned Shaqiri’s ability to play back-to-back games in the competition, with the forward insisting he has not travelled to Germany to make up the numbers.

“It’s almost embarrassing to have to answer this question. Every player who comes into the national team can and wants to play — over the full distance,” Shaqiri said.

“No one should only show up for work half the time. I don’t see any problems with that. Did (Yakin) really say that?

“I gave the answer: I’m here with the national team because I want to help the team and play as much as possible. I didn’t travel to the European Championships to take a vacation.”

Shaqiri scored three times during qualifying as the Swiss finished five points behind group winners Romania, drawing five of their 10 fixtures in a group that included Israel, Kosovo and Belarus.

But Switzerland have proved in recent tournaments they have the ability to compete against the top sides, most notably beating France on penalties at Euro 2020.

The former Liverpool midfielder believes the group of players have the quality to succeed in Germany, and is hopeful his national team can lift an international honour in the years to come.

“It’s my seventh finals, and each one has its story,” Shaqiri said. “I love the tension before tournaments, it doesn’t exist anywhere else.

“Since I joined the national team, we have continually improved. The respect of the opponents and the public for us has grown, as has the quality in the national team. Many players have important roles at big clubs.

“To talk about the best national team of all time, we don’t have the big exploit — three years ago we were very close to the semi-finals. The next generation is in the starting blocks and I hope that at some point Switzerland can lift a trophy.”

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