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Opinion

The Gladbach influence on the Swiss team

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Roar Rookie
7th June, 2021
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As a fan of the Bundesliga, you’d be forgiven to questioning why Marco Rose got the keys to the Borussia Dortmund dressing room after an underwhelming domestic campaign that saw the side finish in a disappointing eighth place and get knocked out of the German Cup by his future employers.

However if you followed the side play in the Champions League group featuring eventual Serie A winners Inter, Real Madrid and Shahktar Donetsk, you may think differently, as Gladbach eliminated the first side and hammered the last side 6-0 in Kiev and then 4-0 on German soil.

While Rose’s team did feature a handful of German internationals and the freakish Marcus Thuram, the spine of this team is a Swiss one and this group of players will be on show at Euro 2020.

No less than four key Gladbach players hail from the land of Roger Federer and all four are in Vladimir Petrovic’s squad for Euro 2020.

The first of this quartet is goalkeeper Yann Sommer. With over 60 caps, the 32-year-old shot stopper is a calm presence, both dominating and being a calm presence at the back, and he will be one of the on-field leaders.

Directly in front of him sits Nico Elvedi, a commanding centre back who sits in the top ten of duels won in Bundesliga statistics.

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More interestingly his pass completion rate of 94 per cent puts him top of the list of this particular statistic, highlighting his involvement in building from the back.

With another former Gladbach player Granit Xhaka sitting in front of him for the Swiss team, it will be expected that they utilise his passing ability to keep control of the ball in what will probably be cagey group games, and expect a lot of Xhaka-to-Elvedi pass combinations.

Switzerland at the World Cup.

Granit Xhaka, Valon Behrami and Fabian Schaer of Switzerland celebrate a victory at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. (Photo by Andrey Bogunov/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The third Gladbach player is all-action midfielder Denis Zakaria, who played in every qualifier and adds pace, power and industry when sitting next to more static Xhaka. Anyone who watched his tireless running when Gladbach achieved a rare win against Bayern in January will bear witness to this.

Finally the foursome is completed by powerful pacey striker Breel Embolo, who could well break out in the tournament and build on the six goals he scored this season.

He is not usually a goalscorer as he is more known for his hold-up play and he will likely act as a foil for the more natural goal scorers in the squad, Mario Gavranovic or Haris Seferovic, one of whom will partner him in attack. However he has shown on occasions that he can be lethal when running at defenders.

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The 8.5 million Swiss population will be hoping that the Gladbach spine, supported by players such as Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, can play a similar brand of football that gave Inter and Madrid so many problems in the Champions League when taking on Wales, Turkey and Italy in Group A.

If they emerge from this tough group, then they will be looking to make it to the quarter-finals of a tournament for the first time in their history.

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