If you want to summarise Switzerland's UEFA EURO 2008™ campaign in a nutshell, the story of central defender Patrick Müller is a good place to start.
Litany of woe
Müller, who appropriately is of Austrian descent and holds passports for both host nations, came to the tournament still recovering from torn cruciate knee ligaments and without a club after Olympique Lyonnais released him. Blaise Nkufo, Steve von Bergen, David Degen, Tranquillo Barnetta and Fabio Coltorti had been similarly troubled by injury, and if Müller was one of the lucky ones in proving his fitness, there was nothing fortunate about his first finals outing – the Czech Republic prevailing after the Swiss offside trap short-circuited. By the time Switzerland faced Turkey in Basel four days later, first-choice strikers Alexander Frei and Marco Streller had fallen by wayside, and to heap misery upon misery, a stoppage-time Arda Turan strike then caught Müller and looped in to knock out the co-hosts.
"The disappointment is huge," Müller said. "We played well, but something has been lacking for us in the decisive moments." Pride, therefore, is all that Köbi Kuhn's men have to play for against Portugal at St. Jakob-Park on Sunday. The 31-year-old is vowing that that is exactly what the Nati will do against the Group A winners. "We have to put our disappointments to one side and realise that we are very fortunate even to be playing in this match," he said. "We have to give everything for our fans."
With Müller having done all he could to be available for the championship, one last push is the least that supporters can expect from the former FC Basel 1893 stopper. "Going into the Czech Republic game, I hadn't played a competitive match for more than six months, but I was actually quite pleased with the performances," he said. "I can do better but I felt alright." Kuhn too has declared himself satisfied with the Swiss showings, with the quality most conspicuous by its absence being that of luck. However, it is not just the outgoing coach whom Müller and company must impress against Portugal, but also Ottmar Hitzfeld, Kuhn's anointed successor after seven years in the job. In addition, despite the well of knowledge from his 80 international appearances and counting, Müller also has to catch the eye of potential employers somewhere along the way, explaining: "I have vacated my flat in France and am now looking for a new club."
©UEFA.com 1998-2011. All rights reserved.