All Hail Lord Xhaka – Switzerland’s Finest
In the course of 2022, Granit Xhaka featured in all 13 games Switzerland played in the calendar year, which included a Nations League campaign, and the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. From a possible 1,170 minutes of national team football, Xhaka clocked 1,143 minutes, while remaining an ever-present at Arsenal.
Switzerland was paired in Group 2 of Nations League A alongside Spain, Portugal and Czech Republic, and while it seemed impossible for the Swiss to win the group and advance to the Nations League semifinals due to the qualities of the higher ranked teams in the group, the threat of relegation to Nations League B loomed, and their cause wasn’t helped when Switzerland lost their first three games in the group to all three opponents, finding themselves at the bottom of the pile. However, three wins in the last three games to the opponents they had lost to, earned Switzerland nine points in the group and third place, as Spain eventually won the group and proceeded to the semis, while the Czechs suffered the ignominy of relegation.
With the Nations League out of the way, there was the business of the World Cup to attend to, and Switzerland were paired with Cameroon, Serbia and tournament favorites, Brazil. The Swiss commenced their World Cup campaign with a win over Cameroon, and expectedly lost to Brazil, which essentially meant that the game against Serbia was a do or die affair. Both teams went to war and churned out an absolute epic, with the Swiss edging their fellow Europeans out with a hard-fought 3-2 victory, that saw them progress to the knockout round. However, the knockout game against Portugal, a team they beat in their bid to survive relegation in the Nations League earlier in the year, was an absolute shocker, as newbie, Goncalo Ramos stole the show with a magnificent hattrick with the Swiss chickening out of the tournament after a 6-1 drubbing.
The European nation, under the guidance of former player, Murat Yakin, have the business of the 2024 European Championships to qualify for, and they are certain that they can count of the qualities of their captain, Xhaka, who recently won the Switzerland Player of the Year award. The Arsenal midfielder competed with Manuel Akanji and Yann Sommer to win the award, and he expressed his delight in winning the award,
“It makes me brutally proud.
“It is a special award for the many work of the past few years in the club and in the national team. But Manuel and Yann (Akanji and Sommer) deserved it just as much.”
In the same vein, Xhaka spoke about how he wanted to return to training and returning to Arsenal for their all-important FA Cup clash with Manchester City,
“I landed on Monday morning and am flying back to London on Tuesday morning. I’ll be training again on Tuesday morning.
“Of course I got permission from the coach. I very much appreciate this consent. Not every coach does that, because on Friday we’re already playing again in the cup at Man City.
“It definitely shows his appreciation. But I’m not going to party anyway. Nothing is going on in Switzerland on a Monday evening (laughs). I proudly accepted the invitation and from Tuesday I’ll be focusing on training and the next game again.”
This is the second time Xhaka is winning this prestigious award, having won it in 2017. His performances have been awesome this season, and he was even voted the September Player of the Month by Arsenal fans, following his goalscoring and chance creating exploits.
We are really happy to see how Xhaka has improved leaps and bounds, and getting recognized for his good performances can only spur him to play even better for club and country.
Here’s to Lord Xhaka – Switzerland’s Finest.
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