Published: Sat, June 23, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

The political meaning behind Shaqiri's celebration against Serbia

The political meaning behind Shaqiri's celebration against Serbia

The Kosovo War that ended in 1999 remains a contentious territory in both Serbia and Albania with the region now residing within Serbia, but having it's own Fifa-recognised team.

Midfielder Valon Behrami grew up in what is now Kosovo, moving to Switzerland with his family in 1990 amid rising tensions between ethnic Albanians and Serbs.

"In football you have always emotions and you can see what I did and it's just emotion", he said in reference to his controversial celebration.

"You should never mix politics and football", Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic said.

Switzerland saw off any late threat from Serbia to run out 2-1 winners and move up to second spot in Group D.

But it was Serbia, who beat Costa Rica 1-0 in their Group E opener, who almost went in two up.

In the first half this evening, he completed 41 passes in 41 attempts, and that form rolled over into the second half as the Swiss really began to ramp up pressure on the Serbian goal, with the former West Ham midfielder further completing 59 passes as his side had 62% possession.

How to watch Brazil vs. Costa Rica
Furthermore, in two recent friendlies against comparable sides to Brazil - Spain and Belgium - they were beaten by a combined 9-1. In the last third of the pitch, you have to create possibilities for the finish.

Kosovo, a former Serbian province, declared its independence in 2008.

It is not a mistake current coach Mladen Krstajic intends to repeat and the Lazio man - who has reportedly attracted the interest of Real Madrid - was lively against Costa Rica.

In a frenetic first half, Switzerland had more of the ball but were sloppy with it, giving away possession in advanced positions and sending Serbia on the break. Serbia will face Brazil in Moscow at the same time.

Another interesting consideration is that Group E's opponents in the last 16 - the F section made up of Germany, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea - will play their last games before Brazil et al. line up on Wednesday night.

Switzerland were largely ineffective in the first half, but they came out after the restart with more intent, and Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka levelled proceedings with a bullet strike right out of the top drawer, while a late victor from Xherdan Shaqiri secured a vital 2-1 result for the Swiss. - Branislav Ivanovic broke Dejan Stankovic's record for appearances for Serbia in its opening match against Costa Rica - he now has 104 caps.

Mitrovic was a handful for Switzerland with his strong physical presence close to the goal.

But it was Stoke City winger Shaqiri who struck the decisive blow, breaking through Serbia's offside trap to slot home calmly as the 90 minutes wound down.

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