Euro 2016

Iordanescu's Rat problem ahead of Swiss game

PARIS • Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu must decide whether veteran left-back Razvan Rat can repel the danger of Xherdan Shaqiri in what could be the defining confrontation of his team's Euro 2016 clash with Switzerland today.

The Romanians were crestfallen after conceding a goal in the dying minutes and losing 1-2 to hosts France on Friday.

But they should be happy that they were surprisingly enterprising going forward and should pose even more problems for the Swiss, who beat Albania in their opening match.

But Rat's form will surely be a concern. The 35-year-old recently returned from a shoulder injury and struggled with the fleeting exuberance and trickery of France's Antoine Griezmann in the first half, while substitute Kingsley Coman's pace was equally troubling to the Rayo Vallecano defender late on.

Shaqiri, with 17 international goals in 54 appearances, boasts similar qualities to both those French attackers, and will fancy testing Rat's possible shortcomings.

Should Iordanescu, in his third stint in charge of the national team, opt to drop Rat, he could select 22-year-old Steliano Filip.

His other selection dilemmas include whether to persist with young striker Florin Andone, second-top scorer in Spain's second division last season, or start with Denis Alibec, a substitute against France.

Likewise, he has to choose between speedy winger Adrian Popa and the more experienced Gabriel Torje.

The Swiss, seeking to advance to the knock-out stages of the event for the first time, were efficient in defeating debutants Albania 1-0.

Their line-up is likely to differ little against Romania, with coach Vladimir Petkovic preferring a settled team.

That means new Arsenal signing Granit Xhaka will attempt to boss proceedings from midfield, Shaqiri will drift in from wide right and Stephan Lichtsteiner and Ricardo Rodriguez will surge forward from full-back.

A win or perhaps even a point will all but ensure Switzerland's progress to the next round.

REUTERS

GROUP A
Romania v Switzerland

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2016, with the headline 'Iordanescu's Rat problem ahead of Swiss game'. Print Edition | Subscribe