When Mikel Arteta analyses the match-up between two of his key players from Sunday’s Nations League tie between Germany and Switzerland there will be plenty that was good in Granit Xhaka’s performance that ought to be no surprise to the Arsenal head coach.
There was the exceptional range of passing, the robust approach to defending and the vocal leadership that translated even through to television viewers – he seemed to be urging Breel Embolo to press high up the pitch when Germany had possession as the Swiss battled to a 1-1 draw.
In his second match as his country’s captain, Xhaka was at the vanguard of a Swiss side who gave as good as they got against Germany, registering 20 shots on goal to their visitors’ 14 and winning the possession battle in the first half at least.
His performance won high praise from Swiss media with Tages-Anzeiger awarding him their highest rating. “Everyone knows: he is the boss, strategist and spokesman, a lot depends on him,” they said. It is certainly not an assessment that Arteta would quibble with.
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Living up to his billing as “strategist and spokesman”, Xhaka spoke of how his side had done “a lot of things very positively” and indicated that they might have deserved greater reward. He seeemed to be relishing his chance to lead a younger Switzerland, one with no outfield players over the age of 28.
Xhaka might have been the most deserving of all in what could be described as a clinic of his most effective trait, those searing long balls out to the flanks that have been so easy on the eye when he is in full swing.
It took some time for him to get going but by the midway point of the first half he was spraying passes over the top to take out four Germany defenders.
Xhaka passes to Loris Benito in Switzerland’s 1-1 draw with Germany
(Image: Sky Sports/Wyscout)
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