BRAZIL BEAT: Sad Swiss fans share flight with team

Associated Press
Swiss soccer fans react during the live broadcast of the Brazil Soccer FIFA World Cup match between Argentina and Switzerland at the public viewing WM-Lounge Europaallee in Zurich, Switzerland, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Keystone, Walter Bieri)
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ABOARD SWISS AIR FLIGHT LX093 (AP) — Disheartened Swiss fans returning to Zurich after their country's 1-0 World Cup loss to Argentina could at least take comfort in one parting treat — they were flying home with their beloved team.

Faces perked up at the departure gate moments before boarding when coach Ottmar Hitzfeld and his players strode in. Some stopped to sign autographs and briefly mingled with fans still sporting the team's red paraphernalia.

On board, the players were greeted with champagne and a Swiss-decorated football was draped in a team scarf. Swiss flags were placed inside the cabin and each player's name appeared on his designated business class seat.

Fans quickly snapped selfies with the players, and once everyone was seated, the captain of Swiss Air flight LX093 — even before announcing the duration and altitude — welcomed the team aboard and said the country was proud of their valiant effort against the heavily favored Argentines.

Most players were not eager to speak to a reporter. Others said the memory of Angel di Maria's crushing 118th minute goal was still too fresh.

"We have to try and forget it," said defender Johan Djourou. "When you lose that way, it is always hard."

Midfielder Valon Behrami said that the team would have much preferred to be on a different flight this day — to a quarterfinal match against Belgium in Brasilia.

"Now everyone has to go to holiday," he said shortly before takeoff. "That is it."

Mario Stalder, a 46-year-old fan from Bern, said flying home with the team offered a fitting coda to his three-week journey in Brazil. Still, he would gladly have forgone the experience in favor of another.

"I would rather they won the game," he said.

— By Aron Heller — www.twitter.com/aronhellerap

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KLINSMANN'S PICKS

SAO PAULO (AP) — No way is Jurgen Klinsmann going against the home Brazilians in this World Cup.

The U.S. coach believes the Selecao are making quite a run at their sixth World Cup championship, even if his homeland of Germany is still in the tournament while the Americans head home.

"Brazil is the No. 1 name to mention because of their talent and their home advantage and the energy they bring into this tournament," Klinsmann said. "There are other teams that will be difficult to beat. Germany will be difficult to beat. Holland will be difficult to beat."

Germany and Brazil would meet in the semifinals in they both win Friday.

— By Janie McCauley — www.twitter.com/JanieMcCAP

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Associated Press reporters will be filing dispatches about happenings in and around Brazil during the 2014 World Cup. Follow AP journalists covering the World Cup on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_Sports/world-cup-2014