Swiss captain Xhaka wants 'new chapter' at Euros after dream season

AFP , Friday 14 Jun 2024

Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka is ready to write a "new chapter" at Euro 2024 after his dream season with Bayer Leverkusen.

Switzerland s midfielder #10 Granit Xhaka. AFP
Switzerland s midfielder #10 Granit Xhaka. AFP

 

Xhaka, whose country face Hungary in their Euro opener on Saturday, helped Leverkusen spring a surprise as they went undefeated to win the Bundesliga title for the first time this term.

Xabi Alonso's team also won the German Cup and reached the Europa League final before losing to Atalanta in a defeat that has provided Xhaka with all the motivation he needs at the Euros.

Asked if it was possible to surpass Leverkusen's golden campaign with Switzerland at the Euros, Xhaka told reporters: "Magnificent, what does it mean? It hasn't been a perfect season because we lost the Europa League final.

"It is a new chapter, a new challenge with the national team, and then with Leverkusen next season.

"I'm looking forward to the Euros starting for us tomorrow. We would like to win all the games of the group stage."

Xhaka, 31, was hailed by Hungary coach Marco Rossi as one of the best players in the world at his position on Thursday.

But, while plaudits are nice, the former Arsenal star is more focused on ensuring Switzerland emulate their run to the European Championship quarter-finals in 2021.

"Congratulations from the opposing coach are a pleasure. If I am among the best at my position, that is for others to say," Xhaka said.

"Success brings self-esteem. It has been an important challenge this season."

Switzerland stunned France with a penalty shoot-out victory in the last 16 at the Covid-delayed Euro 2020, before losing to Spain on penalties in the quarter-finals.

After reports of a recent rift between Switzerland boss Murat Yakin and his players over tactics, Xhaka insisted the air had been cleared in time for the Euros.

"We are glad to have a coach who is listening to us. We have never had problems," he said.

"We are adults. I had a great relationship with the coach in the last six to eight months. He came to visit me, we met for dinner and drank a lot of wine.

"We are ambitious for the team and ourselves. That is all that matters. I packed my luggage to spend a lot of time here."

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