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Analysis - Swiss keep rolling but look weak up front

Football Soccer - Albania v Switzerland - EURO 2016 - Group A - Stade Bollaert-Delelis, Lens, France - 11/6/16 Switzerland's Granit Xhaka and Albania's Amir Abrashi after the game REUTERS/John Sibley Livepic
Football Soccer - Albania v Switzerland - EURO 2016 - Group A - Stade Bollaert-Delelis, Lens, France - 11/6/16Switzerland's Granit Xhaka and Albania's Amir Abrashi after the gameREUTERS/John SibleyLivepic

By Patrick Vignal

PARIS (Reuters) - Switzerland are still alive at Euro 2016 but, unlike the country's famous pocket knives, lack a cutting edge to really make their mark on the tournament.

Their 1-1 draw with Romania at Parc des Princes on Wednesday could be enough to take them through to the knockout stages but their forwards again looked rusty, squandering many chances against a defensively-minded outfit.

It had been a similar story in their opening Group A match against Albania, when they had failed to kill off the tie despite playing most of it against 10 men and had to be content with a 1-0 win.

With the lion's share of possession and creative midfield play from man-of-the-match Granit Xhaka, they looked in command against Romania and showed ability on many parts of the pitch.

Not in the final 20 metres, though, even if they did manage a great goal in the second half with a powerful, angled half-volley by winger Admir Mehmedi.

Trailing Romania after a first-half spot kick against the run of play, they had their chances with 19 shots at goal in the match, including six on target, and seven corners.

Their finish, however, was far from clinical. Striker Haris Seferovic came close a few times, notably when he curled a shot wide after fine work in the box in the first half, but he did not score and nor did speedy teenager Breel Embolo, who made no impact when he came on for the closing stages.

Winger Xherdan Shaqiri, one of the most prominent players in the squad, was even more embarrassing, failing to wake up after a sluggish display against Albania and hardly producing a telling move.

The future certainly looked bright for Switzerland two years ago when they beat Ecuador and Honduras at the World Cup and took Argentina to within a minute of a penalty shootout.

The Swiss seem to have lost their way since veteran coach Ottmar Hitzfeld retired and was replaced by Vladimir Petkovic.

When Petkovic took over, he said he wanted the team to dominate their matches against all opponents with an aggressive, attacking game. Yet he has struggled to impose that style and Switzerland still look more comfortable when the opposition take the initiative.

Before Wednesday's game, Swiss media had invoked the "spirit of Detroit", in reference to a memorable 4-1 win over a great Romania side featuring Gheorghe Hagi at the 1994 World Cup.

In those days, Switzerland could rely on their so-called golden generation featuring Alain Sutter and Stephane Chapuisat up front. Such dangerous marksmen are nowhere to be seen in today's squad.

(Editing by Clare Fallon)

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