Granit Xhaka hails revamped Switzerland after reaching knockout stages again

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Granit Xhaka hails revamped Switzerland after reaching knockout stages again

Xhaka's Switzerland finished second in their group
Xhaka's Switzerland finished second in their groupReuters
Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka (31) has lauded a change in mindset in his team and expressed excitement about their prospects at EURO 2024, after they advanced to the next stage and came within minutes of beating hosts Germany on Sunday.

Switzerland went ahead in the first half through Dan Ndoye but German striker Niclas Fuellkrug spoiled the Swiss party with a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser in Frankfurt.

Switzerland came to the Euros under a cloud of uncertainty after a grim qualifying campaign in which they squeezed through second in their group, beating only Andorra in their last eight matches and squandering leads late on in four games to opponents including Israel and Kosovo.

Xhaka, who was awarded player of the match for the second time at Euro 2024, said Switzerland were now a different side.

"This team is hungry, this team has a completely new mentality, will, passion," he said. "And we want to show that again in the round of 16.

"We are on a very good path," he added. "The first step has been taken. We have survived the group stage and now we want more."

Switzerland have made an art of stepping up on the biggest stage having now reached the knockout stages of six successive major tournaments. In Euro 2020 they eliminated then world champions France in the second round, launching a dramatic fightback before prevailing in a penalty shootout.

Second place means Switzerland will likely next face Italy or Croatia, which Xhaka said was "not a dream match" for Switzerland. Italy face Croatia in Group B on Monday.

Switzerland sat deep from the beginning to frustrate the attacking players of Germany, who dominated possession but had few shots on target.

"Huge respect to the whole team for what they did in defence," Xhaka added.

"You need a performance like that against the top team ...we went from underdogs to earning great respect."

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