Swiss post friendly win over Slovakia
Switzerland's footballers have defeated Slovakia 2-0 in their second-last friendly match prior to the Euro 2008 championship.
The game was held scoreless through a relatively unremarkable first half and early into the second, until a goal from defender Valon Behrami in the 56th minute.
He was quickly followed by captain Alexander Frei, who beat Slovakian goalkeeper Ján Mucha in the 63rd minute.
A close to capacity crowd of 10,150 had gathered under rainy skies at the Cornaredo stadium to watch the Swiss squad play.
The game, exactly two weeks before Switzerland’s first Euro 2008 match against the Czech Rebublic, also saw the return of 31-year-old defender Patrick Müller, who turned in a brilliant performance after an absence of over a year.
“I am impressed by the performance of Patrick Müller,” former national team coach Umberto ‘Bertine’ Barberis told swissinfo.
“I would not have thought that he was already in such good form. His presence has calmed everybody down, especially [fellow defender] Philippe Senderos.”
Müller stayed on the field for 77 minutes of the 90-minute match.
The win for coach Köbi Kuhn’s squad is a welcome one. Prior to Saturday’s game, the Swiss side had lost their last four games.
The line-up for the test against Slovakia was the same one that will be playing two weeks from today, according to the coach.
Team Switzerland will have one more opportunity to hone their skills for the European football championship when they play against Liechtenstein on May 29.
As tournament host, Switzerland qualified automatically and will play in Group A alongside the Czech Republic, Portugal and Turkey.
Neither Liechtenstein nor Slovakia qualified for the championship.
Switzerland’s first match of the Euro 2008 tournament will be against the Czechs on June 7 in Basel.
swissinfo with agencies
Switzerland have qualified automatically for the tournament, which takes place from June 7-29.
They will play their three qualifying matches in the city of Basel.
The accumulated television audience is anticipated to be around eight billion viewers.
Up to 5.4 million football fans are expected to follow the tournament in Switzerland, including 1.4 million from abroad.
This could generate estimated revenues of SFr1.5 billion ($1.47 billion), with a clear profit of SFr860 million for Switzerland, according to a Federal Sport Office report.
Steve Von Bergen
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