BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — At least someone on the Switzerland team has a reason to celebrate.
Goalkeeper Yann Sommer went home after Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to Italy for the birth of his second child, and then rejoined the team Friday. Now for the more difficult task of turning around a failing European Championship campaign.
With both teams in a must-win situation, Switzerland’s game against Turkey on Sunday might just turn into a festival of attacking soccer. A draw is of no use to either as they try to advance to the round of 16.
And the bigger the margin of victory, the better.
A win would give Switzerland four points in Group A and a good chance of qualifying as one of the four best third-place teams — or even overhauling second-place Wales. However, a goal difference of minus-3 is dragging the Swiss down. Depending on results in other groups, a one-goal win over Turkey might not be enough.
“The whole nation is disappointed. It’s fine to be disappointed, it happens in sport,” Switzerland midfielder Steven Zuber said. “We know what the feeling is like to be on the other side, and that’s our aim — to be on the other side on Sunday.”
Turkey lost both of its opening games without scoring a goal, and coach Şenol Güneş said the team now needs “miracles” to qualify. A spot in the last 16 is still possible, but it would require a big win over the Swiss to turn around a minus-5 goal difference and for results elsewhere to go Turkey’s way.
“We are very sorry for being in this situation and for having disappointed our supporters and our nation,” Turkey center back Çağlar Söyüncü said. “If we are to close this chapter, we want to close it with three points. We are all sad but tomorrow is a completely new game.”
Just like against Wales on Wednesday, the match on Sunday will feel like a Turkey home game with traveling fans and many locals in Azerbaijan backing the team.
The Swiss haven’t scored much, either, netting only one goal in their two matches. Since the loss to Italy, many have turned on coach Vladimir Petkovic for what they see as negative tactics and a lack of creativity.
Petkovic has been in charge since 2014, making him the third longest-serving coach at Euro 2020, and is heading into his 76th game. He had never lost a group game at a major tournament before being beaten by Italy.
Before the group stage, Switzerland had been hoping to end its run of three consecutive exits in the round of 16 at major tournaments. Now even reaching that stage would be an achievement.
“Soccer players and coaches have feelings, worries, fears and happiness like anyone else. We are just as vulnerable,” Petkovic wrote in an open letter published Saturday in the Schweiz am Wochenende newspaper. “And that’s why we need the support of you all ahead of this decisive game. Your solidarity. Your positivity. We will do everything so that we can all celebrate together on Sunday evening.”
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