Thursday 21 November 2019

'I saw Ireland... they weren't that bad at all' - Swiss boss Petkovic responds to Peter Schmeichel criticism

Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic during a training session at Stade de Genève in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic during a training session at Stade de Genève in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Damian Spellman in Geneva

Switzerland boss Vladimir Petkovic has told his team to ignore Peter Schmeichel's apparent dismissal of the Republic Ireland as "so bad" ahead of their Euro 2020 qualifier in Geneva.

Reports in the Swiss media have claimed former Denmark and Manchester United keeper Schmeichel made the comment, which was overheard by journalists, to Swiss keeper Yann Sommer after Switzerland's 1-0 defeat in Copenhagen on Saturday.

However, Petkovic was in no mood to be complacent as he prepared for a game which could go a long way towards deciding his team's Group D fate.

He said: "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. What can I say about that? I saw Ireland when they played in Denmark and they weren't that bad at all. It's down to how you find the team for your own opinion.

"What is important tomorrow is these little decisions that we make that actually decide games, little intricacies. We know how Ireland will come towards us, so we've got to respond with more power and give our best, as we always do."

Switzerland find themselves four points adrift of both Ireland, who drew 0-0 in Georgia at the weekend, and Denmark having played a game fewer, but that is due in large part to their tendency to concede late goals.

Switzerland train at the Stade de Genève in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Switzerland train at the Stade de Genève in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

They led the Danes 3-0 with six minutes remaining in Basel in March, but only emerged with a point, and after David McGoldrick snatched a 1-1 draw for the Republic in Dublin with an 85th-minute header last month, Denmark's Yussuf Poulsen repeated the dose to inflict defeat on Saturday.

Petkovic said: "We have difficulties with late goals, yes, I can concede that. But we've got to look at ways that we can be really solid as a team and really compact and try and avoid these kind of situations, and I think with the team that we've got, we can certainly do that."

Sommer admitted is frustration at the costly errors which have blighted a campaign which could effectively leave them relying on the play-offs if they lose to Ireland.

He said: "That's always a difficult situation and it's very difficult to analyse that. We're a good team and we knew straight from the start that this qualification was certainly not a walk in the park.

"We've had really good performances in the last games and we have to continue to do so. Conceding goals in the last minutes is something we've obviously got to look at and work at, but at the moment, we have a solid team and I think that we'll be okay."

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka knows the price of failure against Mick McCarthy's men, but he too is confident that Switzerland can get the result they need at the Stade de Geneva.

He said: "We always have pressure before any game. This is nothing new to us. We just have to win this game tomorrow, and that's what we're going to be aiming to do."

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