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Vladimir Petković on Switzerland's spirit, and facing Wales, Italy and Turkey in Group A

"We're not scared of anyone," says the Switzerland coach as he looks to defy expectations at UEFA EURO 2020.

Vladimir Petković led his side to the last 16 at EURO 2016 and the 2018 World Cup
Vladimir Petković led his side to the last 16 at EURO 2016 and the 2018 World Cup Belga/AFP via Getty Images

Switzerland coach since 2014, Vladimir Petković has made a habit of creating sides that punch above their weight, his Nati reaching the round of 16 at both UEFA EURO 2016 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

As they head into their fourth consecutive major final tournament, the odds are once more stacked against the Swiss, who take on Wales, neighbours Italy and Turkey in Group A. However, the Sarajevo-born former journeyman midfielder knows not to be intimidated, mindful that – at a EURO – crazy things can happen.

Every goal on Switzerland's road to EURO 2020

On his team's personality

The team has become self-aware, optimistic and, yes, definitely realistic. We know what we can do, what we want and how far we can go, but always with the aim of getting as much as we can, so not limiting ourselves to one opponent, not limiting ourselves to one match or another, but always wanting to improve, always wanting to win against every opponent. We respect our opponents – that's very important – but we're not scared of anyone.

To be talking about the last 16, the last eight, at this stage, without knowing who the opposition might be, it shows a lack of respect. The next opponent, the next match, is always more important and this is how we behave, without setting any limits. We have to give 120%, to try to play our game without fearing the opposition, and every match gives us a springboard to the next one because we always want to get better.

Vladimir Petković watching the EURO 2020 finals draw
Vladimir Petković watching the EURO 2020 finals drawGetty Images

On Group A opponents Wales, Italy and Turkey

[Wales are] definitely a team that deserves respect – a team that reached the semi-finals last time around [in 2016]. We know Italy and their quality well. Over the last few years with [Roberto] Mancini, they have done well. It's not by accident they have extended his contract until 2026. They believe they will get success, and they've declared themselves favourites for the EURO. On the other hand, there are 90 minutes to play. We want to spring a surprise in this game.

[Turkey have] developed a lot in the last few years. They have players that play in different leagues at a high level. They've had good results against higher-ranked teams. So they will come with the biggest of ambitions, like the other teams in our group. If you ask all the teams in our group what they think, they will say they will definitely finish in the top two. That's nice, but it's difficult too.

On long-distance travel in Group A

A year ago, it bothered me more. Now, perhaps I'm actually happy about it. Every five days we change location, faces, hotel and environment. We won't get bored doing that. All of us, including the players, have to be ready. Get unloaded quickly, then a period of rest and load up again afterwards. That way it will be quicker and, of course, if we manage to get through the group, then we can calm down a bit after that, staying in Rome.

EURO 2016 highlights: Switzerland 1-1 Poland (4-5 pens)

On preparing for his third major finals as a coach

When you get into the matches, you can't enjoy it the way you would like. You only enjoy it when you bring three points home. But it's an experience that enriches you every time. Have I changed much since I took charge of Switzerland in 2014? Yes, definitely a little bit, physically! I haven't got any fatter or thinner, but as far as football is concerned, having a certain experience makes you more confident and gives you more awareness.

His favourites for the finals

France are definitely a top team, and right underneath them there are great teams like Belgium, Italy, Spain, Germany. There are always the same teams that can aim for the semi-finals at least. But, after them, there are many teams that are not favourites but can surprise people. It's happened more than once at the EURO that a team has come from nowhere and surprised everyone, like Denmark [1992] and Greece [2004]. Anything can happen.

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