XHAKA BROTHERS CLASH AT EMIRATES
Taulant Xhaka admits facing his brother Granit in Basle’s Champions League clash with Arsenal will be a ‘special moment’, but insists sentimentality must be pushed aside for 90 minutes.
It is not the first time the pair will be facing off, with Granit and Taulant playing for Switzerland and Albania respectively at Euro 2016, but the 25-year-old is eagerly anticipating another match-up on arguably Europe’s biggest club stage.
Taulant can play in defence or midfield, and reveals that it was initially surreal to be competing against his brother for 50-50’s in the middle of the park, before his competitive nature swiftly took over the nerves.
I was a bit afraid to start with, as I didn’t want to injure him,’ he said.
‘As the game went on you relax and focus just on the game. To play against Arsenal is a childhood dream.
‘It will be special. We both go into it with the same thoughts, that we need to win and give everything.
Despite considering themselves best friends (they even share daily telephone calls), Taulant believes neither he or his brother will be giving anything away.
‘We won’t tell each other how the teams play – we are professional. I hope that after the game we can meet quickly.
‘I need to ask the coach first (coach of Basel), so hopefully we win and he’s in a good mood!
‘Of course it’s a wish for me that we could play together in the same team one day.
Taulant is often vocal about the pride he possesses for Granit’s achievements, but is keen to stress that he is an individual who has proven himself at the top level, with his own reputation.
‘I don’t think I’m in Granit’s shadow – it’s not a thing for me.
‘I think I have shown through my performances for Basel in the Champions League that I’m a good player.