Does Ireland play any sport

European Championship qualification: five answers before Switzerland's game in Ireland


Who is replacing Shaqiri - and what is he doing now? Does anyone know an Irishman? And how does Switzerland win in Ireland?


1. Who will replace Xherdan Shaqiri?

You have to be eleven friends. Or at least eleven players who form a unit for 90 minutes. (Photo: Keystone)

Purely nominally, from the place on the match sheet? It is probably Denis Zakaria who takes Shaqiri's place. But of course Switzerland doesn't have a player in their ranks whose style is even remotely similar to Shaqiri. Zakaria may have many qualities, but we should still wait a little longer for his first side pull goal from 17 meters.

via Gfycat

Mick McCarthy summed it up pretty nicely. Ireland's coach explained that without Shaqiri it would be easier to prepare his team for the European Championship qualifier against the Swiss: "Because sometimes he just does things that no one can foresee."

The (admittedly) boring answer to who will replace Shaqiri is: the team. Vladimir Petkovic says: "We have a system thanks to which we are not dependent on individual players." And the Swiss national coach is right. His team played brilliantly against Denmark for 80 minutes - without any Shaqiri.

Only the break-in at the end is something the Swiss are allowed to skip today.

2. And what is Xherdan Shaqiri doing today?

What Xherdan Shaqiri is posting while Switzerland is training in Ireland. (Photo: Instagram)

It may surprise you. But we don't know exactly what Xherdan Shaqiri is up to at the moment. His brother and manager Erdin recently left inquiries quite unanswered.

But we know very well what Xherdan Shaqiri did yesterday Wednesday while Switzerland was preparing for the game in Dublin: He posted a photo of his two Champions League medals on Instagram. And the trophies of his two Supercups won. Provided with a heart smiley.

What exactly was that supposed to mean? Well, you've caught us again. Maybe that not all social media activity has to make sense?

But we know very well how many minutes Xherdan Shaqiri had to work for the four medals he presented.

In 2019 there were 196 minutes in the Champions League, zero of them in the final. Plus zero minutes in the Supercup. In 2013 it was 209 minutes in the Champions League, zero of them in the final. And in the Supercup 26 minutes plus the decisive penalty for Bayern's victory over Chelsea.

What remains is the hope that Shaqiri's stamina in Liverpool will at least have some effect. So that he will soon be given a few minutes of working time at Liverpool FC.

3. How dramatic would a Swiss defeat be?

He prefers points to arithmetic exercises: Vladimir Petkovic. (Photo: Keystone)

"The table is hard to read," says the Swiss national coach Vladimir Petkovic. What he means by that: Ireland has probably six points more than Switzerland, but also played two more games.

The advantage of the “Boys in Green” is the game plan, thanks to which they have already completed the simplest tasks. These are the home game against Georgia and the two games against Gibraltar. With a bang, they met this without any harm: The corresponding results are 1: 0, 1: 0 and 2: 0.

Of course, Switzerland are nine points behind if they lose tonight, but in that case they still have all the time to repair the damage: They still have the two compulsory tasks against Gibraltar ahead of them, as well as the home game against Georgia. And also the home game against Ireland. Not to be forgotten: The Irish have a big problem and that has been scoring goals for a long time.

"We have known since the group draw that this is one of the key games," said Petkovic, commenting on today's match. And in the next breath he takes away the meaning again: "But it is not a decisive game."

4. How will Switzerland win this game?

Always helpful in football games: strikers who hit the goal. In the picture, Haris Seferovic is cheering. (Photo: Keystone)

The Irish are not famous for playing fine football. And even if they try, they come up against limits that begin in the last third of the field. Your strength is your physique, your passion. Fabian Schär says: "They are very present in a combative and physical manner." He knows most of the Irish players from the Premier League, from games against Burnley, Brighton or Everton. Granit Xhaka says: "Ireland is physically better than us."

The danger has been recognized, the Swiss cannot simply rely on what sets them apart from their opponents and cannot live from playfulness alone. You have to give the field the right attitude that a tough, uncomfortable fight awaits them. The realization must be: Points are more important than a beauty prize.

Coach Petkovic has his last visit to Dublin's Aviva Stadium in March 2016 in mind. It was a horrible evening in terms of entertainment and quality, but one thing has become a lesson for him: "We have to be ready before the kick-off." At that time, Switzerland lost a test match on the way to the European Championship in France by conceding a goal in the 2nd minute 0: 1.

5. Do you actually know one of these Irish people?

Seamus Coleman, the most valuable of the Irish squad with an estimated market value of 15 million euros. And captain of the Irish too. (Photo: Keystone)

The nation lacks the big names of yore, a Given, Stapleton, Quinn, Aldridge, Givens, Duff, Brady, and the Keanes are missing: Robbie, the record goalscorer with a long history at Tottenham, and especially Roy, the midfielder who is with his fanatical manner drove Manchester United to series titles in the 1990s.

Today the players are Randolph, Coleman, Duffy, Keogh, Judge, O'Dowda, Stevens, Hendrick, Hourihane, Robinson (Callum, not Crusoe) or McGoldrick. The names may be well known in Ireland, but on mainland Europe they lose their sound.

The coach has the most famous name. This is Mick McCarthy, the warrior on the sidelines. It stands for the memory of the good old days, when Ireland went to an EM for the first time in 1988 and a World Cup two years later. At that time he was the chief of defense.