The Swiss are lightly-regarded coming in to Euro 2008 and not much is expected of them despite their achievement of making the last 16 at the World Cup two years ago.
Chivas USA defender Raphael Wicky, who played 75 games for Switzerland before joining MLS, agreed to sit down for a brief chat about his homeland’s chances at Euro 2008.
Wicky is continuing his rehab from a calf strain (something he also suffered from before the 2006 World Cup) and is getting closer to returning to action.
The Swiss open the tournament Saturday against the Czech Republic. The game kicks off at 8:30 a.m. on ESPN Classic.
Q: What are the Swiss chances at Euro 2008?
A: In the beginning the tournament is more difficult than the World Cup because there are four really good teams in every group. … If the team passes the group then anything is possible.”
Q: Compare the 2006 World Cup team with the Euro 2008 team.
A: Out of the team’s 23 players, 15 or 16 are the same. The team is more experienced now. This team is better than the team in 2006. (although he went on to elaborate that the friendlies leading up to the tournament have not reflected that).
Q: How important is it to have playmaker Tranquillo Barnetta of Bayer Leverkusen (32 caps) back from injury just in time for the tournament?
A: He’s important. He’s important because he’s the offensive part. He’s fast. But I think you’re going to win the game with the defensive part. If you don’t take a goal you may win the game. More important for Switzerland than one player is the whole team.
Q: Who are the players to watch for Switzerland?
A: Alexander Frei (57 caps/Borussia Dortmund) – 32 goals for the national team. He’s always good for a goal.
Q: Will the expectations of the Swiss public be too high after the World Cup?
A: It’s a good thing. Everybody is looking forward to it. People have expectations after World Cup 2006. The expectation is maybe a little too high from the people, but that’s a part of the game.
Q: Who will win?
A: Germany is always good in tournaments. (And then he mentioned France, Italy, Holland and Portugal as other contenders).