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Swiss aware shootout sword can cut both ways

The memories are fresh for the Swiss and their supporters who, in a matter of days at last year's European Championship, experienced the elation that comes with winning on penalties and the pain of going out the same way.

Switzerland's players celebrate after winning the World Cup group G soccer match between Serbia and Switzerland, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. Switzerland won 3-2. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Switzerland are well aware of the highs and lows of a penalty shootout and it is something coach Murat Yakin would prefer to avoid when his team play Portugal on Tuesday for a World Cup quarter-final place.

The memories are fresh for the Swiss and their supporters who, in a matter of days at last year’s European Championship, experienced the elation that comes with winning on penalties and the pain of going out the same way.

The Swiss pulled off a huge shock when they knocked out world champions France in a last-16 shootout but four days later they felt the other edge of the sword when they lost to Spain.

“We’ve seen this in the past a few games were decided by penalty kicks,” Yakin told reporters on Monday. “Players after every practice they do practise penalty kicks.

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“Whether a coach really focuses on that, it’s not really me,” he added. “I’d like to really make a difference before it comes to penalty kicks.

“There are many things before it gets to penalty kicks that are important and we want to make sure we can decide this game in regular time.

“But if it gets to penalty kicks, my team is familiar with that situation.”

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Switzerland, as they often do, have flown under the radar in Qatar, reaching the knockout stages for the third straight time by finishing second in their group behind Brazil with victories over Cameroon and Serbia.

The tiny alpine nation routinely punch above their weight at big events and Yakin says his players have no fear of soccer heavyweights like the team they face on Tuesday.

In the recent Nations League, the Swiss suffered a 4-0 away loss to Portugal but beat them 1-0 at home.

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Such is the Swiss self-assurance in their own tactics that Yakin says they have no special plans to deal with Portugal talisman Cristiano Ronaldo.

“We know Ronaldo can make a difference in a match we must prevent him from having the necessary space to do that,” said Yakin. “But there is no special man marking we are planning.

“We are well prepared, we are very much looking forward to this match and we will see how we can implement our strategy,

“We’ve proven that not only can we keep up with big teams but that we can be the dominant team.”

First published on: 05-12-2022 at 22:08 IST
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