Euro 2024: Granit Xhaka: “Coaching training improved my game”

Euro 2024: Granit Xhaka: “Coaching training improved my game”
Euro 2024: Granit Xhaka: “Coaching training improved my game”

Granit Xhaka is already preparing his reconversion.

IMAGO/SOPA Images

Major player in Bayer Leverkusen’s exceptional season (Cup/Championship double, Europa League final), Granit Xhaka faces Germany on Sunday in Frankfurt, with a sharper vision than ever on the game since he graduated of coach

“I have the feeling that this training for the coaching license allowed me to see the game differently and to be one step ahead of my opponents” declared the captain of the Nati, after the victory of his team against Hungary (2-1) on June 15, a match where he was named man of the match.

“Looking back, I think I should have started coaching training much earlier. She improved my game,” he recently confided in an interview with the magazine of the German League (DFL).

Assistant coach of an amateur team

A few days before the start of Euro 2024, while Switzerland was completing its preparation, Xhaka sacrificed his vacation to go to Birmingham to validate his UEFA A coaching diploma, undertaken this season.

In this context, while Leverkusen was enjoying a string of successes – the Werkself finished the Bundesliga season undefeated – the 31-year-old midfielder spent part of his free time observing SC Union Nettetal, in the German fifth division, in which plays his brother-in-law Leonard Lekaj.

Once he completed his mandatory hours to validate his diploma, Xhaka was still regularly on the field as assistant coach of the amateur team, when his schedule allowed.

Disagreements with Yakin

An approach that seems natural for the Swiss playmaker, never shy of comments when it comes to discussing the Nati’s tactical plans. Especially since Murat Yakin took charge in 2021, a coach with whom Xhaka does not hesitate to expose his differences of point of view.

This was obvious after the slap received against Portugal (6-1) in the round of 16 of the World Cup in Qatar in 2022. Yakin had innovated with a playing system that the Nati had never tested. Xhaka had little taste for the experience and had clearly made it known.

This was still the case, during the disappointing qualifications for Euro-2024 and a 2-2 draw in Kosovo, where his family is from, and where Xhaka claims, even on the pitch, the independence contested by Serbia.

“I have to be careful what I say, right?”

Xhaka, on Yakin’s tactical choices

From this highly symbolic game for him, Xhaka came out indirectly criticizing his coach: “In training, there was no rhythm, no tempo, too little concentration” he fumed.

In Germany, the tempestuous Xhaka has calmed down but continues to express his doubts. Faced with the experimental composition imagined by Yakin for the match against Hungary, the playmaker expressed his surprise, after taking care to clarify, all smiles: “I have to be careful what I say, right? »

His best season

But Xhaka’s tactical vision does not simply serve to contradict his coach. At 31, with Leverkusen, he probably had the best season of his career and his influence on his selection partners has never seemed so important. If he sometimes struggled to shine with the Nati, he is now the indisputable guardian of his game.

The Swiss will need the former Arsenal player more than ever to compete with Germany on Sunday and validate their qualification for the rest of the Euro. Germany, where the player Xhaka also became a coach.

(AFP)

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