Switzerland made history by recording their best-ever result at a EURO finals, winning their first knockout tie and going so close to reaching the semi-finals, losing to Spain on penalties in the last eight.
What were the positives?
As coach Vladimir Petković pointed out, there are plenty of positives and, since he is a “positive person”, he will take them home with him. The negative part was being so tantalisingly close to the semi-finals but not quite getting there. And yet the character shown by the Swiss after the group stage, the emerging crop of younger players, the leadership of key men Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, and a very-organised approach were all ingredients that enabled the Nati to knock out world champions France and write history.
Easy answer. The round of 16 win over France, personified by the celebration of a briefly-famous fan. If I had to pick one moment from the on-field drama under the lights in Bucharest, then Mario Gavranović’s goal – dribbling past a defender and driving into the bottom corner on 90 minutes – would be right up there with some of the most epic EURO memories. Another contender is Yann Sommer’s climactic shoot-out save from Kylian Mbappé, and let’s not forget the team talk given mid-huddle by skipper Xhaka.
What the future holds
Petković has been coach for seven years, and it’s uncertain whether he’ll continue in the role. What is sure, however, is that the victory over Les Bleus – Switzerland’s first-ever EURO knockout-round win which earned their first major quarter-final since the 1954 FIFA World Cup – marked a watershed in the history of the Nati, who have realised they are capable of great things. Some of the younger players coming through are exciting – right-flanker Kevin Mbabu to name one – and we can expect the Swiss to carry on being a difficult opponent for anyone.
Predictions for the rest of EURO 2020
The final four at Wembley will be very exciting and I’ll personally stick with my initial prediction of a final between England and Italy, with the former lifting the trophy in the end.