Euro 2024: Switzerland captain Xhaka plays down rift with coach

Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka is now on good terms with manager Murat Yakin, he said on Friday, playing down reports of rows over strategy during a poor qualifying campaign marred by late blunders.

Switzerland face dark horses Hungary in their opening Group A match in Cologne on Saturday, needing a strong showing to dispel fears their impressive record of reaching the tournament’s knockout rounds could come to an abrupt end.

Switzerland sneaked into Euro 2024 second in their group after a campaign in which they beat only Andorra in their last eight matches and squandered leads late to opponents including Israel and Kosovo.

The results led to reports of tension between Yakin and his players and calls from fans for him to be fired.

“We are adults enough to clarify everything. So I’ve had a great relationship with the coach in the last six, eight months. It has been better than the past,” Xhaka told a news conference.

“He came to see me many times … We had dinner together. We’ve drank a lot of wine together. So everything is going fine. We are both ambitious and we want to be successful for ourselves and for the team.

“We are glad to have a coach listening to us who wants to talk to us,” Xhaka added.

Midfielder Xhaka, one of Switzerland’s key players, has earned a reputation for his fiery temperament and occasional tantrums at being substituted.

The 31-year-old has mellowed since his move away from Arsenal and played a pivotal role in Bayer Leverkusen‘s emphatic Bundesliga title triumph this season.

Switzerland have reached the knockout stages of the last five major tournaments but Xhaka would not be drawn on his team’s chances of making it six from a group that includes Hungary, Scotland and hosts Germany.

“We know that I don’t like to talk with ifs, buts and hypotheses,” he said.

“We would like to give an important sign tomorrow with a good match, trying to win all the games of the group stage.”