Football: The League of Nations, this competition that Switzerland does not neglect

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The national team met this Thursday in Bad Ragaz (SG). Four games are scheduled for the holidays.

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Valentin Schnorhk

Bad Ragazi

Coach Murat Yakin, like his group, arrived in Bad Ragaz on Thursday. Relaxed, but not on vacation.

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We will have to wait for a postponement. The life of a Swiss international offers many privileges, but not so much that of resting and breathing after a busy season. It’s a little transhumance that awaits the national team over the next seventeen days. Gathered in Bad Ragaz (SG) since this Thursday, she leaves for Prague on Tuesday, before heading to Lisbon and settling on the shores of Lake Geneva for the two games she has to play in Geneva against Spain and Portugal.

The selection of Murat Yakin therefore has a program ahead of it that runs until June 12. With four games in the middle (in the Czech Republic on the 2nd, in Portugal on the 5th, for La Praille’s two games on the 9th and 12th). It is, in short, a schedule very similar to that of international summer competitions. In summary, with four meetings in ten days, Murat Yakin sees his management being tested.

Pierluigi Tami, the director of the national teams, makes the Nations League an important sporting goal.

Pierluigi Tami, the director of the national teams, makes the Nations League an important sporting goal.

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And a good taste of what the World Cup has in store for him next fall. The players will not be made available until November 14, just ten days before Switzerland’s entry against Cameroon (ASF hopes to be able to schedule a friendly match during this break, either in Qatar or in neighboring countries).

Double importance

“A year ago we were also in Bad Ragaz to prepare for the European Championship,” said Pierluigi Tami, director of the national teams. This is for the League of Nations. And the only difference is that we don’t have any real preparation ahead of us. But we have four games. In a major tournament that would mean moving on to the round of 16. Especially since we will be competing against three very strong teams in the European panorama. These are good tests.” In other words, there is no reason to neglect this competition, which has nothing friendly, if only at the level of the problems associated with it.

“The first goal is to keep us in Ligue A, so we have to finish in the top three”

Pierluigi Tami, National Teams Director

“The League of Nations is of sporting and economic importance to us,” Tami adds. Sporty as we are in League A and facing big teams. It is certainly a preparation base for the World Cup, but we also have objectives directly related to the League of Nations. The first was to keep us in Ligue A and finish in the top three of the group.

And on an economic level? “The income they generate is significant: it is linked to the opponents. So they are more important in League A than in League B or C. The UEFA bonuses are also higher. And then, in terms of sponsorship, merchandising, it also gives the opportunity to play in full stadiums. Indeed, this should be the case for the two scheduled meetings in Geneva: all available tickets have already left for Portugal and there are still a handful left for Spain.

Holidays for later

Nevertheless, with these four games in ten days, after a great season, Murat Yakin will be tasked with managing his workforce as best he can. He only kept 26 players (including four goalkeepers), where he might have been able to aim a little wider. “We’ve talked a lot about this and it’s clear that the multi-player season has been busy,” Yakin said when announcing his roster on Tuesday. We have therefore expanded the picket list, with the possibility to bring in one or two players from the U21s in the second part of the stage. Also a sign that the rotation the coach is going to practice should not be the widest. And that he approaches these meetings with real ambition.

Granit Xhaka and his teammates will be asked to make one last attempt to finish this long season.

Granit Xhaka and his teammates will be asked to make one last attempt to finish this long season.

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So it’s up to the players to make this last little effort. With the exception of Xherdan Shaqiri (he plays with Chicago on Sunday) and Mario Gavranovic (in the Turkish Cup final), they all arrived on Thursday. “Obviously some players like to go on vacation after a big season,” admits Pierluigi Tami. Because they have to bear a physical and mental load.” To take the pill, ASF invited families to spend the weekend in Bad Ragaz. One last boost?

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