(Reuters) – Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic has warned against unrealistic expectations at the European Championship, saying his side must be wary of their group stage opponents before setting lofty targets.
“When it comes to us, everyone is talking about the European Championship quarter-finals. That is arrogant, there is a lack of respect for our opponents in the first round, and for the possible opponent in the round of 16,” Petkovic, 57, said in an interview with Swiss newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung.
“First we have to play, then we can talk. Spain, France, Germany or other bigger nations may be able to look at things differently, but not us.”
Swiss captain Granit Xhaka has repeatedly said the side have the realistic potential to reach the semi-final of a major tournament such as the Euros or the World Cup.
“Put it this way: optimistically I agree with Granit Xhaka, but realistically maybe not,” Petkovic responded.
“We work hard with the goal and the perspective of being part of the Euros until the very end. For now, we don’t want to talk about the round of 16 or quarter-finals or the semi-finals. We must take it one game at a time, our first game will be against Wales on June 12.”
The Swiss also face Italy in Rome on June 16 and Turkey in Baku on June 20 in their Group A fixtures.
“One thing is clear, we have become more experienced and have developed further, we were able to play against strong opponents like Germany and Spain last year,” added Petkovic. “I hope that these experiences will also be felt and seen at the European Championship.”
Petkovic, among the longest serving coaches among the Euro 2020 finalists, said the Swiss had also become tougher.
“We want to be dominant, we want to win every game, we want to stick to our style. We have shown that more and more recently, even away from home against strong opponents.”
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis)