BAKU (Reuters) – Switzerland finally displayed their potential at the European Championship as they won their last group game on Sunday but they ultimately underachieved in their three matches and must now wait to see if they will stay in the tournament.
The 3-1 triumph over Turkey in Baku produced flashes of what Switzerland are capable of, and took them up to four points in the Group A standings, but they will only know in the next few days whether it is enough to advance to the last 16.
A negative goal difference left them third behind Italy and Wales in the table and in danger of not being able to claim one of the four places reserved in the next round for the best third-placed finishers.
Switzerland had loftier ambitions, especially after getting past the group phase at their previous three major tournaments.
At the World Cups in 2014 and 2018 they went out in the round of 16, as was their fate at the last Euros in France five years ago.
With many players from those tournaments returning, they were hoping to push on at Euro 2020 and go further than ever before.
Captain Granit Xhaka had suggested they were capable of going all the way to the deciding game next month in a statement of intent that looks like it could be well off the mark.
Certainly the likes of Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri and Breel Embolo are capable match winners — as Sunday's double from Shaqiri against Turkey showed.
Too many of their squad, however, are not regulars at their clubs and their lack of game time showed.
Their performance in their opening 1-1 draw with Wales in Baku was languid. Against Italy in their next outing in Rome, they were played off the park, which set off days of bitter media criticism.
Sunday's goal celebrations from Haris Seferovic and then Shaqiri showed their frustration, with both players pursing their lips against a solitary finger in a message to their detractors.
Yet if results in the remaining group games over the next three days do not go their way, the Swiss will exit the tournament and face another barrage of recrimination.
They will have nobody to blame but themselves, having missed a host of chances in both outings in Baku while proving unable to summon up some fight when the Italians put them to the sword.
Should they fail to reach the knockouts, it will be seen as a massive missed opportunity for a generation of players with so much potential.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis)
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