As the decade comes to a close, it marks the end of another successful era for the Swiss National Team.
Switzerland have undergone a revolution in the last nine years, building on the foundations formed in the early 21st century. The setup developed by the late great Köbi Kuhn has flourished, only increasing in strength in recent years.
The Schweizer Nati have achieved so much this decade, shown by their five major tournament appearances. From the World Cup to the European Championship to the inaugural Nations League Finals, Switzerland have been everywhere.
There’s so much to celebrate and reflect on, so Schweizer Nati: Decade in review will be split into multiple parts. Part Two looks at the greatest matches of the decade in terms of how they performed, how they did it and what it meant, in what has truly been a successful era in Swiss football.
PART 2: THE MATCHES
With 106 matches played throughout the decade, it’s no easy task to pick out the very best. Some have not come in the form of taking the win, instead meriting Switzerland’s passion and style of play which may have fallen just short.
The Schweizer Nati have had notable draws for an array of reasons. A goalless draw with Northern Ireland saw the Swiss qualify for the 2018 World Cup, with Ricardo Rodríguez pulling off a last-minute goal line clearance. They went on to hold five-time champions Brazil at that tournament, in a famous display in Rostov-on-Don.
Many defeats also warrant praise for the fight shown by Switzerland, like their narrow defeat in the 118th minute by Argentina in 2014. However, only the finest victories make the cut here, in the five greatest victories for the Schweizer Nati this decade.
5) SWITZERLAND 2-1 ECUADOR
15th June 2014
2014 World Cup
Estadio Nacional Brasilia, Brasilia, Brazil
We start with the 2014 World Cup, when Switzerland got their Group E campaign underway against Ecuador. The South Americans took advantage of some poor Swiss marking to take the lead, with Enner Valencia heading home a quarter of the game in.
Switzerland had to respond, and they did exactly that after half time through Admir Mehmedi’s powerful close range header. The Swiss were right back in it, and were fighting hard for the win. They got what they deserved in the dying embers of stoppage time, with a fantastic counter attack rounded off by Haris Seferović to seal the win.
That winning goal is as iconic as the game itself, with Valon Behrami putting in one of his best displays ever which included a match-saving block and powerful drive. Seferović’s finish was emphatic and secured what was a battling win from Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side, getting their World Cup campaign off to the perfect start in Brazil.
4. SWITZERLAND 2-0 PORTUGAL
6th September 2016
2018 World Cup Qualifiers
St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland
The Nati were back in action three months after EURO 2016, looking to avenge themselves for their round of 16 exit. They welcomed European champions Portugal to Basel, kicking off qualification for the forthcoming World Cup with a tricky test.
Despite the heightened status of the Iberian visitors, Switzerland didn’t fall under pressure and stormed into an early lead at St. Jakob-Park. Two goals in seven minutes put the Swiss in cruise control, with Breel Embolo and Mehmedi netting for the hosts. The Nati had pulled off a huge upset, defeating Europe’s newly crowned champions.
It was a fantastic Swiss victory and paved the way for qualification, as Switzerland built on the three points to earn a remarkable nine consecutive wins. Portugal earned revenge in the final qualifier, but that night in Basel remains one of the best tactical performances by a manager in recent times.
3. SERBIA 1-2 SWITZERLAND
22nd June 2018
2018 World Cup
Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad, Russia
A game that has personal meaning for me because I was there, but also deservedly earns its place at number three. Switzerland’s meeting with Serbia was important in terms of Group E and politics: The Swiss had to win to keep qualification hopes alive amid a tense atmosphere, as Swiss players with Kosovar roots were hounded by the Serbian fans.
Switzerland got off to a dreadful start in Kaliningrad, when Aleksandar Mitrović headed the Serbs in front. They truly were the away side amongst Serbian and Russian fans joined together, but fought hard to equalise with a superb long range strike from Granit Xhaka, whose controversial eagle celebration made it even more intense.
The match’s conclusion was so dramatic, it seemed scripted. Mario Gavranović played it through to Xherdan Shaqiri, who stormed through and slotted it under Vladimir Stojković to send myself and thousands of Swiss fans into pandemonium. An incredible victory which meant so much more than the game of football, as Switzerland triumphed.
2. SPAIN 0-1 SWITZERLAND
16th June 2010
2010 World Cup
Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, South Africa
A narrow miss on first place but certainly the most famous Swiss victory in decades, Switzerland were the biggest underdogs when they met Spain in the 2010 World Cup. The Spaniards were clear favourites to win the whole tournament in South Africa, having been crowned European champions in Switzerland two years earlier.
Hitzfeld’s men faced a formidable Spain side in Durban, one who dominated in possession and number of shots on goal. Yet it was the Swiss who snatched it with an bittersweet goal, when Gelson Fernandes bundled the ball into the net to give Switzerland a famous three points on the South African coast.
That afternoon in Durban is one of Switzerland’s greatest results in their 114-year playing history, in a game remembered for defying the odds to beat the best of the best. Fernandes deservedly became a cult hero in Swiss football, in one of the crowning moments in the Swiss game.
1. SWITZERLAND 5-2 BELGIUM
18th November 2018
2018 Nations League
Swissporarena, Luzern, Switzerland
There was no doubt in this decision: Switzerland’s win over Belgium was the Schweizer Nati’s match of the decade. The two faced off in the inaugural Nations League group stage in what was ultimately a direct play-off: The top-ranked Belgians were on the verge of qualifying for the Final Four, whereas the Swiss had to win to qualify.
The game looked to be over inside just 17 minutes, as Belgium took a 2-0 lead through Thorgan Hazard’s brace. Switzerland were supposedly down and out, needing three goals against the highest ranked side in the world. The impossible seemed beyond the Nati’s ability, but what followed was remarkable.
Ricardo Rodríguez’s penalty started the comeback, before Seferović levelled it up. The Benfica striker added another one to put the Swiss in front, before Nico Elvedi added a fourth and Seferović sealed his hat-trick late on to earn a famous 5-2 victory for the Schweizer Nati.
That win epitomised everything great about Switzerland, coming from behind to beat the best in the world. The best night of the decade for the Swiss which proved they can play and defeat the top teams in the world, in a win which provides so much promise for the decade ahead.