Soccer-Coach Petkovic warns Swiss players not to give Italy too much respect

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Switzerland Training - Stadio Tre Fontane, Rome, Italy - June 15, 2021 Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic during training REUTERS/Alberto Lingria

ROME (Reuters) - Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic has told his players not to show in-form Italy too much respect and have belief that they can win when the teams meet in a European Championship Group A clash in Rome on Wednesday.

Italy brushed aside Turkey 3-0 in their tournament opener with a slick display that continued their fine form of going unbeaten in their last 28 games dating back to September 2018.

Switzerland, meanwhile, missed a host of chances and were held 1-1 by Wales in their first game in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku, meaning anything they can get out of this contest could be precious in their bid to reach the second round.

"We will do what we have always done, which is to play our own game," Petkovic told reporters on Tuesday. "We will respect Italy, but not too much. They are the big favourites, not only in our group, but in general in this tournament. We all saw the quality they showed against Turkey.

"But we have quality too and can surprise them. We will try to turn the game in our favour and be a bit quicker when we attack and create chances."

Switzerland have matched Belgium, Brazil, England and Spain in recent years, which Petkovic says should give them cause for optimism.

"I hope that we will give 120%, just like we did against all the other big teams. We will need to be better than we actually are, we will have to have a great effort, run a lot and be great in duels. Then we can win," he said.

"We need to play our own game and be dangerous in the final third. We must guard against certain Italian moves, but also be true to ourselves."

Petkovic said he will field his strongest starting XI and not rest players for what could potentially be a crucial final group match against Turkey on Sunday.

"Let's take things one match at a time, we will not get ahead of ourselves," he added. "It is very important to give 120% with the best starting XI available.

"We hope we can produce a big performance and win the match to be sure that we can go through to the next round."

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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