by Tom Lees - 20th January 2016
With the 2016 European Championships now just a few months away, here at FanFormation, we will be taking a close look at each Nation competing and how they fare once the big event in France kicks off. As part of our pre-tournament preview, we will be going through each Country and highlighting three of the youngsters, on the fringes of selection, who will be hoping to make their Nations final squad.
Today we focus on Switzerland, managed by Vladimir Petkovic, a nation who are due a good tournament performance.
Switzerland already have a fairly youthful and exciting squad at their disposal. Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka, Haris Seferovic, Josip Drmic, Silvan Widmer, Pajtim Kasami, Michael Lang and Fabian Schär are all in their early twenties and are yet to reach their peaks. This is an exciting time for the Swiss fans, as if these players peak at the finals they could really achieve some great results. Also they have Breel Embolo as an attacking option, the teenage wonderkid is one of the most sought after names in World football and his impact in France could be huge.
Because of the youthful look to the national side it may appear tougher for breakthrough young talent to make it into the squad before the Championships begin, although the evidence is there to suggest youngsters are given a chance by the Swiss management. Below I have picked out three young players who I believe have a chance of entering the selectors minds when the final squads for Euro 2016 are put together.
Born in Yaounde, Cameroon, young Yvon Mvogo is right on the edge of the senior national team and will fancy his chances of making the final squad for the Championships. The national Under 21 captain has already been involved with the senior squad on get-togethers but is yet to make his debut, chances are this opportunity could be given to him in the preparations games through early 2016. Competition for the goalkeeping spot is tough for Switzerland, but Mvogo is seen as a big hope for the future and with three keeper slots available for Vladimir Petkovic, Mvogo will surely be tested soon.
A highly athletic keeper, Mvogo’s reactions, agility and shot stopping ability have pushed him to become one of the most talented young goalkeepers in Europe. He also has great ability with the ball at his feet, due to beginning his youth career as an outfield player, and has the pace to sweep up in defence in dangerous situations. A critique could be made of his tendency to punch in catchable situations, and this is an area of his game that he’ll need to work on if he is to make it to the very top.
Already a regular first team starter for Young Boys, the 21-year-old shot stopper looks set to have a long and successful career, don’t be surprised if his name is linked to some of Europe’s bigger club sides, although for development purposes playing every week in Switzerland is working very well for Mvogo. I believe he has a great chance of going to Euro 2016 with Switzerland, not as a first choice keeper, and he may not even get a game, but the tournament experience could be very useful for him going forward.
The next player on my list is a player who is yet to even represent Switzerland at youth level, so can be considered a real ‘wild card’ selection. He is Edimilson Fernandes, cousin of Swiss international Gelson Fernandes. Like his cousin, Edimilson has dual nationality so currently retains the right to choose between Switzerland and Portugal, which may explain away his lack of youth international exposure.
The 19-year-old attacking midfielder is currently a first team regular for FC Sion in the Swiss Super League, and has been for two seasons now. Technically gifted, although with much to still learn, the tall and talented Fernandes has developed a reputation already for classy displays at the tip of midfield and a fierce long range strike which has seen Super League nets bulge on several occasions. Now with European experience under his belt for Sion, the teenage talent looks to have a big future in the game, and could be a great selection for the Swiss national team. A surprise selection yes, but he has the ability and fearlessness of youth to really make an impact. Of course this is still a speculative choice as Fernandes has no international recognition as of yet, and may choose to represent Portugal instead. But his talent is there, and if he does want to play for Switzerland as his cousin did, then there is no time like the present.
Just like Edimilson Fernandes, the next young hopeful in my selection also has dual nationality which is yet to be resolved, his name is Shani Tarashaj. Recently signed by Everton, Tarashaj is a Swiss youth international that also has the option to represent Albania. The Albanian coach, Gianni de Biasi, had declared in 2015 that Tarashaj had a big future for the Albanian national team (source telegrafi.com sport) but since then Tarashaj has continued to represent Switzerland at Under 21 level so his future is really up in the air. Such is the talent of the young attacking player that a potential row could break out between the two Group A rivals, and Switzerland will be keen to convert his youth caps into senior recognition as soon as they can.
A product of the Grasshoppers Zürich youth system, Tarashaj first broke into the first team setup in the 2014/15 season with a large number of appearances coming from the bench. He would establish himself in the side the following season, with 8 goals in 16 league starts, form that prompted Premiership Everton to pay a reported £2.8 million for the player at the beginning of 2016. Tarashaj has returned to Grasshoppers on loan until the end of the season so that he can complete his national service and gain more first team exposure. When he does arrive in England it’ll be interesting to see how the youngster adapts to English football, especially at Everton where competition for a place in the first team will see him up against Barkley, Mirallas and Deulofeu.
Small of stature, quick over the ground and with great feet, Tarashaj reminds me a little of another Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri. With his flair and composure in front of goal you can see why he attracted so much interest at such a young age. Playing either as a wide attacking midfielder, or just off the frontline, Tarashaj looks set to be a creative and destructive force at domestic and international levels in the future, Switzerland will be keen to make sure that international future is in their setup. Although still very early in his career, the international dispute could result in a senior call up sooner rather than later, so don’t be surprised to see Tarashaj involved at Euro 2016, the tug of war for his talents looks set to begin.
OTHER PLAYERS OF NOTE
These are only three of the names in the frame for Swiss international selection, apart from them there are a number of other youngsters that will be dreaming of the European Championships. Young centre backs Gregory Wüthrich and Nico Elvedi both look set to have big futures, but are still too early in their professional careers to really trouble the selectors. Wüthrich has just broken through into the Young Boys first team and this appears to be a tournament too soon, whereas Elvedi has recently joined Bundesliga side Borussia Mönchengladbach and despite making a promising start will need more first team action.
At right back Florent Hadergjonaj looks like being a real talent, but reports are that the Young Boys player will choose to represent Albania in the future instead of Switzerland so his selection appears unlikely, at least for the Swiss team. Ulisses Garcia of Werder Bremen has proven a fine young player both at left back and left midfield, but just like Elvedi at Mönchengladbach, his lack of continued game time in Germany will go against him in the case for selection.
In midfield, defensive pair Denis Zakaria and Anto Grgic have been impressing onlookers with their performances in the Swiss Super League for Young Boys and FC Zürich respectively. Both tall and strong, and with experience for the Swiss youth national sides they will both be interested in the national squad as the tournament gets closer. It may take injuries to more experienced heads for either to make the list, but both are more than capable of doing a job.
There we go, these were the players I have chosen as possible candidates for the Swiss national team in France this summer. As a nation that doesn’t shy away from introducing youngsters to their setup, Switzerland won’t be dismissing anybody as of yet and these players will remain hopeful to the end. Who do you think could make the final squad for the Swiss, and far will they go in the tournament finals?
Switzerland have been drawn in Group A of the tournament, alongside Albania, Romania and host nation France. Kicking off their campaign against the Albanians on June 11th in Lens, a game the Swiss will want to win if they are to achieve their expectations to qualify from the group.