The Swiss played against Italy in the opening match of the 2019 World Cup in Slovakia, when they won 9-0. It was the last duel against the southern neighbor. This time, coach Patrick Fischer’s team is the clear favourite, but they do so with the necessary humility.
“We’ll treat them like any other opponent and we’ll play very aggressively, straight-forward and hard,” promises Fischer. It is important not to give them unnecessary chances through penalties. Italy includes Greg Ireland, who is well known in Switzerland, as boss and Larry Huras as assistant to the gang.
The Swiss got a good feeling in the pre-season, in which they won six out of nine games. Fischer describes the team as young and crazy in a positive sense. “The players are extremely hungry and focused. Now we have to adjust that we have the emotions under control, the mix between toughness and skills is right.”
Regarding the cancellation of NHL star defender Roman Josi, who is staying with his pregnant wife, Fischer says: “I talked to him for a long time. It makes sense to me.” It is still open whether Kevin Fiala, who was eliminated from the NHL playoffs with the Minnesota Wild on Friday night, will strengthen the team. Normally there is no question that the 25-year-old from Eastern Switzerland will participate, but this time the situation is different in that he has a very well-paid multi-year contract in the best league in the world.
Based on Friday’s training, the attacking lines against Italy could look like this: Bertschy, Hischier, Meier; Suter, Malgin, Simion; Ambühl, Corvi, Herzog; Kuraschew, Thürkauf, Scherwey. As usual, Fischer did not reveal who will keep the goal on Saturday. But he let himself be elicited that they had a clear plan who was number 1 and they didn’t have number 3. “The goalies are never a problem for us,” Fischer continues.
Based on the conversation, number 1 can actually only be seven-time champion keeper Leonardo Genoni. “What he did again in the playoffs is unbelievable,” said Fischer, paying tribute to the Zug goalkeeper. However, since he is already thinking about the future – Genoni is 34 years old, Reto Berra 35 – Sandro Aeschlimann will also play. The 27-year-old goalie from HC Davos is taking part in a World Cup for the first time after being part of the team at the Olympic Games in Beijing, although he never played there. (sda)