Vladimir Petkovic

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Petkovic: Time to “take Switzerland seriously” after Brazil draw

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While much of the talk about Sunday’s 1-1 draw between Brazil and Switzerland will focus on the former, the Swiss would like their share of credit for frustrating — and matching — one of a handful of favorites to win the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic is chief among those who believe it’s time those on the outside “start taking notice of us and taking us seriously.” As for the insinuations that his side roughed up Neymar, who suffered 10 of the 19 fouls committed by Switzerland, most of them were “very clean” — quotes from the BBC:

“Sometimes if there is a lack of recognition that is a pity because we have played very well. We showed and demonstrated that this team always believes in itself and can achieve results.

“Most of the duels (with Neymar) were won in a very clean way. It was one of the key ingredients to neutralize Neymar.”

“I’m very proud and pleased with the discipline with the way we played. We worked collectively and cohesively.”

“When we are able to play forward and press higher up we were able to do it well and it is an excellent starting position for the rest of our group matches.

“We had real difficulties in the first 40 minutes, I said ‘let’s remain calm, focused and believe in ourselves, push up higher up the pitch and create opportunities to score.'”

Having secured a point in far and away their toughest group game, Switzerland now have eminently winnable games against Serbia (Friday) and Costa Rica (Wednesday, June 27) remaining. Four points from those two games would just about guarantee progression to the knockout rounds.

What a photo: Lazio plays to near-empty Stadio Olimpico as fans protest club president

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You know that wacky guy who calls into a sports radio talk show and claims that the higher-ups would get a true picture of the fans discontent if they all just stayed away for a match?

Well, Lazio supporters did just that. Just a sprinkling of fans were in the stands at Stadio Olimpico as Lazio fell to Atalanta by a 1-0 score on Sunday in Serie A action.

The fans have been angry with club president Claudio Lotito, and it hasn’t been eased by poor form on the pitch. Some of the folks who did attend the match voiced their displeasure with signs like “It’s him  or us” or “Lazio is ours and we will leave it to our children,” according to a BBC report.

There have been a number of problems at Lazio this season, including the firing of manager Vladimir Petkovic and the transfer of popular midfielder Hernanes. After the sale, there was a protest march attended by nearly 40,000 fans.

Lazio coach Edoardo Reja responded to the sight of an empty Olimpico:

“It’s a real shame to see the Olimpico deserted. We were in with a chance of achieving something significant but it’s difficult to play in these conditions.

“This situation can’t go on. It’s a disadvantage for us, as we’ve seen today.”

Stay tuned.