Denmark boss Åge Hareide: pressure will be on Switzerland at home
Switzerland confirm Fabian Schär is out of game in Basel due to head injury
Denmark and coach Age Hareide during a training session in Basel, Switzerland. Photograph: EPA/Georgios Kefalas
Switzerland v Denmark,
St Jakob Park, Basel (7.45pm)
After facing a turgid Ireland team for the fourth time in 13 months in November, Denmark manager Age Hareide yearned for better tests and on Tuesday night he gets it in Switzerland against the eight best team in the world.
Ireland will gain an early indication in their European Championship qualifying campaign about the two nations ranked above them when they do battle at Basel, with both managers content to talk up the weaknesses in the other during the pre-match musings.
Denmark, situated two places behind the Swiss in the rankings, have lost just once in open play during the past 2½ years, and that was their Futsal team’s defeat to Slovakia while their entire squad downed tools for an industrial dispute over image rights.
That remarkable run was extended, albeit just about, last Thursday when they were forced to come from behind to eke out a 2-2 draw against Kosovo.
That his Denmark side only had a friendly, utilising stars like Christian Eriksen from the bench, while the Swiss had to negotiate a tough trip to Georgia two days later for their competitive opener is an advantage, according to Hareide.
“I hope they are tired after playing on an artificial surface in Tbilisi and having such a long journey home,” he said about the 2-0 victory.
“That has to work in our favour. Both teams like to play good football, but there will be pressure on the Swiss from the home crowd to win.”
Whatever about the expectations of fans, there has been pressure on the Swiss over their handling of Fabian Schär’s head injury. The Newcastle United defender admitted after Saturday’s match that he had been “knocked out for a few seconds” following a clash of heads with Georgia’s Jemal Tabidze.
Although he was treated for five minutes by medical staff, Schär was allowed to play on and finish the game. On Monday manager Vladimir Petkovic confirmed he had been ruled out of Tuesday night’s game but it was not enough to appease brain injury charity Headway. It has called on Uefa to launch an investigation into the matter.
Aside from the centre-back, Switzerland will also be without Xherdan Shaqiri and Haris Seferovic, their Benfica striker. Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka returns to Basel, the hometown club he left in 2012 for Bundesliga outfit Borussia Monchengladbach.
“Denmark don’t have many weaknesses but still have some we can exploit,” said Petkovic.