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Saturday 21 September 2019

Xhaka: 'Swiss will show their class at home'

TOUGH: Granit Xhaka. Pic: Sportsfile
TOUGH: Granit Xhaka. Pic: Sportsfile

Some megaphone diplomacy from the Danes, some steely-eyed confidence from the Swiss and a race for Euro 2020 qualification which is one of the tightest in the competition.

And the noises emanating from those two camps this week suggests that Switzerland and Denmark see themselves as the ringleaders and Ireland as the outsiders.

Ireland are, today, leaders in Group D but the table will have a different outlook after the weekend: Switzerland will beat Gibraltar tomorrow to move within three points of Ireland (and still have a game on hand) while a win for Denmark in Georgia tomorrow would put them ahead of Ireland on goal difference.

While Denmark's flight to Tbilisi from Gibraltar was held up, meaning they only arrived in Georgia late last night, the Swiss spent yesterday licking their wounds after a 1-0 lead away to Ireland finished with a 1-1 draw.

But Swiss captain Granit Xhaka is confident that his side will show their true face when they take on Ireland in Geneva next month, by which time Liverpool star Xherdan Shaqiri may have emerged from his sulk and deigned to play for the national side.

"We have to, yeah, it's the last chance for us against them," Xhaka said when asked if the Swiss can do better at home to Ireland than they managed in Dublin.

"They are now six points in front of us, they have good qualities and team spirit, they are physically very strong. But I think it will be a different game at home.

"From the start to the end we were the better team, that's why I say they are happier than us, we lose three points and they win one point.

"We have to win this game as we had more chances, we were more in the box than them but we made one mistake and it's a draw. We made one mistake and they scored, they made more mistakes than us but we only scored once, this happens in football and we have to keep working a lot," added the Arsenal man.

"Switzerland are not top and as for the rest, I don't care who is second or third, we play Gibraltar two times and Georgia, the easier teams we have to play but every game is difficult, let's see against Denmark and Ireland in October."

The Danes, meanwhile, headed to Tbilisi for tomorrow's game with confidence high after Thursday's 6-0 thrashing of Gibraltar, pleasing for them to see Christian Eriksen put aside some club issues to score twice.

After the game, Danish midfielder Thomas Delaney grabbed hold of a megaphone to thank the 700-strong travelling support in Gibraltar. "I promised them that we would get to the Euros," he said later with a smile.

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