Hungry Mehmedi stresses Swiss ambitions

Switzerland's place in their first Under-21 final is no surprise for Admir Mehmedi who joined Mario Gavranović in underlining why Spain hold no fears for Pierluigi Tami's Aarhus underdogs.

Admir Mehmedi in training before Saturday's final against Spain
Admir Mehmedi in training before Saturday's final against Spain ©Action Images

Pierluigi Tami's Switzerland side may have become the first Alpine nation to reach the UEFA European Under-21 Championship final but their presence in Saturday's Aarhus decider against Spain is no surprise to their leading scorer in the competition, Admir Mehmedi.

It was Mehmedi whose spectacular 114th-minute strike took the Swiss into the final at the expense of the Czech Republic and, after four straight victories in Denmark, the FC Zürich forward sees no reason why they cannot achieve one more.

Mehmedi said: "We are not a surprise. At the beginning of the tournament we said that we were here to win the title and not just happy to be here. We have ambitions. We take it match by match but we never go out thinking we could lose, and now we want to win on Saturday too."

"One of the most important goals of my career" is how the 20-year-old describes his winner against the Czechs. It was his third in Denmark after an earlier double against Belarus and left him second only to Spain's five-goal Adrián López in the competition's scoring chart.

Inevitably, Mehmedi says he is more interested in denying Adrián a winners' medal than the adidas Golden Boot. "At the end of the tournament, it is not important if I or a great striker like Adrián has scored more goals. What is close to my heart is to become European champions. So far, we have won every match without conceding even once and I am convinced that we will win on Saturday."

Mehmedi ended Wednesday night's game against the Czech Republic supported by a second striker in Mario Gavranović as the Swiss pushed for the winner. Gavranović, who is expected to start back on the bench against Spain in Tami's preferred 4-1-4-1 formation, is accepting of his substitute role and underlines the unity in the camp.

"It's a group that's been built over a long period – most of us have known each other from the Under-16s and Under-17s. We've done something important over the past two weeks. We've enjoyed ourselves and we've grown together. We need to go that little bit further now."

Having to take that last step against Spain does not worry Gavranović, a scorer when his FC Schalke 04 side eliminated Juan Mata's Valencia CF from the UEFA Champions League in March. "We have respect for Spain just as they must respect us but we don't have any fear," he said.

"We know Spanish football very well. They like to keep hold of the ball but if we put them under pressure and manage to get some possession, they might get anxious and we can get the better of them. This year I've already eliminated one Spanish team from the Champions League, I'm hoping it'll go well tomorrow too."

Whatever the outcome, his colleague Mehmedi is predicting a final worthy of the name at the Aarhus Stadion. He explained: "I don't think you can call the Under-21s youth football any more. There are some players who are already regular starters at good clubs. That's another level, a higher level. I expect a football feast and a bit of a spectacle against Spain. We both play very attacking football. I believe that both teams will have to try to play football."