Grasshoppers goalkeeper Bürki dares to dream

"We want to make the impossible possible," said goalkeeper Roman Bürki whose first-leg heroics kept Grasshopper Club in contention against Olympique Lyonnais.

Roman Bürki collects the ball during the first leg in Lyon
Roman Bürki collects the ball during the first leg in Lyon ©AFP

Rather than bask in the limelight of a virtuoso display in Grasshopper Club's slender UEFA Champions League defeat by Olympique Lyonnais last Tuesday, goalkeeper Roman Bürki deflected the attention onto his FC Basel 1893 counterpart Yann Sommer.

"Yann is the best goalkeeper in the division and has proved himself in both the Champions League and the Europa League. That's something I've yet to do," said the unassuming 22-year-old, who came of age at Lyon's Stade de Gerland with two outstanding reflex saves from Alexandre Lacazette's header and a venomous Clément Grenier free-kick.

"I was disappointed with my performance against Aarau [in the Swiss Super League on 27 July] so it was pleasing to make amends in the Lyon game," continued Bürki, taking heart from Grasshoppers' 1-0 third qualifying round first-leg loss. "We hit the woodwork twice and had other big chances. We couldn't have done much more and can be happy with our performance. We're on a level playing field with Lyon and there is a real possibility for us to progress in the second leg."

Just as last season's Swiss runners-up Grasshoppers are striving to emerge from the shadow of champions Basel, so Bürki must displace Switzerland No1 Sommer as well as Diego Benaglio and Marco Wölfli in the international pecking order. "Making the step up to the national team is one of my ambitions, but Yann is ahead of me in that respect as well," he said. "He's got plenty of experience and caps under his belt, whereas I've never received a call-up."

While both goalkeepers ooze class, Sommer is something of an introvert who patrols his area with an ice-cool countenance. Bürki is comparatively extravagant and renowned for his aggression in aerial duels, earning the nickname 'Amok (rampant) Bürki'. Such methods have drawn criticism from some quarters, yet Bürki vowed not to compromise his style. "I need to show aggression to gain respect from opponents. It is something that sets me apart from Yann," he said.

Turning attention to Tuesday's third qualifying round decider at the Stadion Letzigrund in Zurich, Bürki is daring to dream – driven by a desire to follow in the footsteps of Grasshoppers' domestic rivals. "Basel made it to the semi-finals of the Europa League and have beaten Manchester United when nobody gave them a chance. We want to make the impossible possible," said Bürki.

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