Tuesday 11 July 2017, 08:18

Fast-improving Switzerland aim for fresh highs

  • Switzerland begin their UEFA Women’s EURO campaign on 18 July

** They are aiming to reach the quarter-finals

** Austria, Iceland and France await in Group C

Whenever a new experience looms, it is customary for nerves to jangle a little more each day as the moment of truth approaches, particularly if the preparations for that moment have been less than ideal. Switzerland’s national team face their second major tournament debut in two years at this month’s UEFA Women’s EURO after their maiden appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup™.

Despite the challenge that the continental showdown presents, coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side are showing no signs of nerves - perhaps because of their victory last March at the Cyprus Cup, a tournament widely regarded as a dress rehearsal for the EURO.

“The fact that we qualified emphatically for our second major tournament shows that we have established ourselves at the pinnacle of the sport, both in Europe and internationally,” explained Voss-Tecklenburg on a recent visit to the FIFA World Football Museum. “Being there is not something that can be taken for granted. We’ve certainly been together a long time and know each other well.

"We work well together and have experience of a major tournament that we want to draw upon. After that, we’re obviously keen to fulfil our potential and do certain things better than we did at the World Cup. If we can do that, I believe we can go far. We want to perform to the best of our abilities, as that will enable the team to achieve a great deal.”

The Round of 16 marked the end of the road for the Swiss at Canada 2015. Although they were certainly on a par with the hosts in that match, they ultimately suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat. The team have long since shrugged off the disappointment of exiting the competition in the first knockout round, and the World Cup experiences they garnered are something star forward Ramona Bachmann can now reflect on positively as she waits for their second major tournament to kick off in the Netherlands on 16 July.

"I think we can count on a certain degree of consistency, as we’ve been playing together for a long time and competed at the World Cup with practically the same squad,” the 26-year-old explained.

Heightened aspirations The Wolfsburg striker was optimistic when asked whether this generation can prove that they have reached the top of the sport. "Given the huge progress we made during the World Cup, I’m confident that we can do even better at the EURO and experience an even bigger boom."

The extent of this boom will start to become clearer when the Swiss meet neighbours Austria next Tuesday in their first match in Group C. This will be followed by games against Iceland and France – and while the latter are among Bachmann’s favourites to take home the trophy, this does not mean that the team ranked 17 in the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking do not have the title in their sights too.

"Anything is possible in football, and we’re saying that we want to reach at least the quarter-finals," said the coach. "There are certainly other favourites and countries that are more advanced in their development, can call on a broader squad and replace players effectively.

"The fact is that we will step onto the pitch wanting to win every match and achieve the best possible results. It is often said that many things are possible at a tournament, but no matter what happens, I will hopefully be able to look back on the competition and say that we gave it our very best."