Xherdan Shaqiri was one of the standout players in a hectic UEFA Nations League semi-final on Wednesday, as Switzerland suffered a 3-1 loss to Portugal.
Ahead of England’s meeting with the Netherlands at the Estadio D. Afonso Henriques on Thursday night, Shaqiri and the Swiss took on their hosts in Porto.
And unlike under Jurgen Klopp, Shaqiri took up duties as a free-roaming No. 10 for Switzerland, in a 3-5-1-1 system behind Haris Seferovic.
Able to drop deep, drift wide and pick passes from the edge of the ‘D’, the Reds’ No. 23 shone, particularly in a first half that saw his side trouble Rui Patricio on a number of occasions.
His ability to thread through balls behind the Portugal defence for Switzerland’s onrushing wingers was a key threat, while his own delivery from out wide saw Seferovic miss a golden opportunity at 0-0.
Unfortunately the game ended in a 3-1 defeat, with Cristiano Ronaldo opening the scoring from a free-kick, before sealing his hat-trick late on after Ricardo Rodriguez equalised from the penalty spot.
It was an evening most notable for the controversial VAR call that led to the Swiss’ spot-kick, but for Liverpool fans, Shaqiri was the highlight.
However, it is unlikely he will be seen in this duty again for the Reds, with Klopp’s experiment with the role effectively ending at half-time in September’s 3-0 win over Southampton.
Shaqiri was unstoppable that afternoon at Anfield, setting up two goals, but the manager explained after the game that he brought him off at the break due to concerns over the defensive stability of his setup.
Utilised as a winger for the remainder of the campaign, and increasingly sparingly as the months went on, Shaqiri has continued to adapt to Klopp’s demands.
Speaking ahead of the Nations League semi-final, he dismissed claims he could leave Liverpool in search of regular first-team football this summer.
“The manager has many good options and has to decide who can play. I knew before my transfer that the competition here is very tough.
“I have a long-term contract and I definitely will stay.”
Switzerland will now play either England or the Netherlands in a third-placed playoff on Sunday, kicking off at 2pm (BST).