Football: Switzerland to face Portugal in Nations League semis

Switzerland will face hosts Portugal for a place in the inaugural Nations League final while England will meet the Netherlands in the other semi-final after Monday's draw in Dublin.

Football: Switzerland to face Portugal in Nations League semis
Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri during his sides stunning 5-2 comeback against Belgium in November. Photo: AFP

Portugal and Switzerland will meet in Porto on June 5th with England and the Netherlands clashing in Guimaraes on June 6.

The third-place playoff and final will take place on June 9th, with the latter game being staged in Porto.

All four sides qualified for UEFA's new competition — designed to replace meaningless friendly matches with competitive internationals — by winning their three-team groups in the top tier of the Nations League.

England came from behind to late on to beat Croatia 2-1 at Wembley last month and leap from bottom of a group also including Spain to the top.

The Netherlands also needed a late show to edge out world champions France by scoring twice in the final five minutes in a 2-2 draw away to Germany.

However, Switzerland arguably produced the most stunning comeback in overturning a 2-0 deficit against Belgium to win 5-2 in their final group game.

European champions Portugal were unbeaten in four games against Poland and Italy to secure their place and the honour of hosting the tournament.

There could be disappointment for some travelling fans, though, as the Dom Afonso Henriques stadium in Guimaraes holds just 30,000 with England and the Dutch both expected to bring a strong support.


‘Overwhelmed’: Unaware Swiss super fan stunned about viral fame

A Swiss super fan who has shot to fame after images of him watching Switzerland’s win over France went viral told the media he was unaware of his viral fame - but that he was overwhelmed with the world’s attention.

‘Overwhelmed’: Unaware Swiss super fan stunned about viral fame
Image: Twitter.

Like most Swiss football fans, Luca Loutenbach’s Monday evening – highlighted by a surprise upset win over the current World Champions and tournament favourite France – went about as well as you could have expected. 

But while his side were putting on the pressure through late goals to push the game into extra time, Loutenbach’s image was being shared across the world. 

Two pictures of Loutenbach, juxtaposed from before and after Switzerland scored an equaliser in the 90th minute to send the game to extra time, were widely shared. 

The images were even shared by Sadiq Kahn, the mayor of London, who congratulated Switzerland and said the images summed up the beauty of football. 

On Tuesday, Loutenbach spoke with Swiss tabloid Blick to tell the story. He said he had no idea about the images as his phone had no reception in Romania – and only found out after the game. 

“I didn’t have a network during the game. But some fans around me were connected to the internet and quickly realized what was happening. What an incredible buzz!” said the man from the canton of Jura. 

While Switzerland have made it further than they have in their history in the tournament, Loutenbach is far from a bandwagon fan. He told Blick he’s seen around 50 national team games before. 

“It’s the most beautiful day in the history of Swiss football, let’s not be afraid of saying it. It is the accomplishment of the immense work of the ASF (Federation), of (coach) Petkovic and of the whole team” he said.