Xhaka brothers could be set for Albania v Switzerland meeting

Switzerland's Granit Xhaka could be set for a Euro 2016 meeting with his brother, Albania midfielder Taulant Xhaka 
PA reporter

THERE could be a European Championship first when Switzerland face Albania in Lens, with the prospect of two brothers lining up for different countries.

Twenty-three-year-old Swiss Granit Xhaka, who has recently signed for Arsenal, might be opposing his older sibling Taulant, 25, in central-midfield. It is unprecedented at a European Championship and rare in international football. The Boatengs, Germany's Jerome and Ghana's Kevin-Prince, have twice faced each other in World Cups, though they are half-brothers.

The Xhakas are of Kosovan descent, but their parents migrated to Switzerland when the country accepted thousands of Kosovar Albanians who fled the Balkan wars in the 1990s following the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

Granit, whose team-mates Xherdan Shaqiri, Blerim Dzemaili, Valon Behrami, Shani Tarashaj and Admir Mehmedi are also of Albanian descent, said ahead of the game: "We've made a bet [on the outcome], but have not yet decided on the reward. I will give my best for Switzerland, just as Taulant will for Albania."

Meanwhile, Albania coach Gianni De Biasi was also asked in the pre-match press conference if he thinks his Group A underdogs, who will also play Romania and hosts France, might use Leicester's Premier League title success this season as an inspiration.

He said: "Impossible things in football can happen. We have to remain concentrated and play the football we know best, defensively and offensively."

Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic has challenged his players to deliver a memorable European Championship for the country's supporters. At the World Cup in Brazil two years ago under Ottmar Hitzfeld, the Swiss reached the knock-out stages, where they lost to Argentina in the last-16 after extra-time.

That showing has provided optimism in Switzerland that a strong Euro 2016 showing could be on the cards and Petkovic wants his players to seize their chance to write their names into Swiss folklore: "There's always a lot of emotion from the first game - you need to have a lot of focus," said Petkovic at Friday's pre-match media conference.

"The emotion needs to be harnessed in a positive fashion. We haven't spoken about it a great deal, or the opposition, but we'll start to do that this evening [Friday]. We need to enjoy being here and do everything we can to win the match. We must keep calm, concentrate on our game and have real conviction in our type of game and commit the fewest mistakes.

"During the two-and-a-half weeks that we've had, my players have told me about the value of this tournament. They've come very concentrated and with a lot of energy, willing to do everything to be successful.

"There are single players in my squad who have experienced greater success, but we hope to make people talk about us even a couple of years from now."

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