Xhaka and Shaqiri: First goal, then provocation
The heated duel between Serbia and Switzerland should be hard to beat in terms of entertainment value. The two teams from Group E have at least set the bar very high. Despite the 2:1 victory of the Swiss selection, the Swiss were dissatisfied with the first half. During the break the shreds flew in the cabin. Granite Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri were two Kosovar players who gave the answer – and provoked the redemptive celebration of the goal.
The 2018 World Cup, which has so far had few goals, could “only” improve Serbia and Switzerland with three goals – in terms of entertainment value, intensity, excitement and passion, this encounter should be difficult to beat, at least in the group phase: Both teams threw everything into the duels and led them racy and fiery. The German referee Dr. Felix Brych had a lot of work to do, but led the heated match confidently. And also playfully the combination had much to offer: Both teams played vertically and mostly fast forward, scored 33 shots (Switzerland 20, Serbia 13) and played from the first to the 90th +7th minute with skin and hair full on victory.
Granite Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri were responsible for the fact that the Swiss were able to cheer for it in the end. Xhaka equalized with a massive distance blast in the 52nd minute of play on 1:1. Shaqiri shocked the white eagles in the 90th minute, just before the end, as he sprinted halfway and then pushed in to the 2-1 final.
Xhaka and Shaqiri of all people! The duo, like midfielder Valon Behrami, were blustered mercilessly by Serbian fans at every ball contact. The reason: The trio has its roots in Kosovo. The players then gave the answer with goals on the pitch and provided an additional provocation in the redeeming celebration: both Xhaka and Shaqiri formed with their hands the double-headed eagle, the symbol that can also be found on the Albanian flag. Vladimir Petkovic, coach of the “Nati”, made the following gesture after the match: “Regarding the actions of Xhaka and Shaqiri, I can only say that you should not mix sport with politics, you should have respect and be fair”.
“People could see it, it was out of emotion,” Shaqiri said afterwards: “It’s not about politics, it’s about football. And Xhaka also tried to play down the subject. “It was a very special game for me,” said the former Borussia Mönchengladbach professional. “Thousands of people, families from Switzerland, Albania, Kosovo, have watched. This victory was for my family, who always supported me. The cheering was not a message to the opponent.”
One point is enough
Through the trio, Switzerland is equal in points with Brazil (both four points). On the final day of the match, the Helvetic side will thus have a draw against the already eliminated and uncounted Costa Rica on Wednesday in Nizhny Novgorod. “I dream a lot,” betrays Xhaka. “The first goal is to survive the group stage. We have another important game against Costa Rica and then we’ll look further.” Above all, the 25-year-old sees his team well equipped mentally: “We are much further than two years ago.