Switzerland recorded their first result of the Nations League on Sunday, as they drew 1-1 with Germany at St. Jakob-Park.
As was the case three days earlier in Lviv, Switzerland conceded in the 14th minute. After some patient German buildup, the ball was pulled back to İlkay Gündoğan, as he fired his shot past Yann Sommer to draw first blood for Germany.
Switzerland found themselves creating countless chances in front of goal, but they were lacking any cutting edge. Bernd Leno saved well at the near post from Renato Steffen, before Haris Seferović missed an absolute sitter, scuffing his shot from six yards out.
Germany almost punished the Swiss by doubling their lead, but a strong double save by Yann Sommer helped keep Die Mannschaft at bay. An action-packed first half fell into German favour, but the game remained wide open going into the break.
The Swiss came out for the second half looking sharper, as the game’s momentum swung their way. They found the equaliser out of nothing when Breel Embolo squared it, finding Silvan Widmer who struck it sweetly into the bottom corner to level it up on his home turf.
That goal gave the Nati confidence, with Granit Xhaka constantly firing long shots at Arsenal compatriot Leno. Despite the increased confidence and greater share of attempts, Vladimir Petković’s side could not capitalise on their second half performance, though a point was no less than they deserved in Basel.
a familiar lack of swiss efficiency
Opening their Nations League campaign with a loss to Ukraine was the worst possible start, meaning Switzerland desperately needed a result at St. Jakob-Park. But it would be no easy ask against Germany, the Nati’s superior neighbours and world champions of eight years ago.
While Germany’s opener was well taken, it was a typical start to Switzerland’s evening. Failing to extinguish the attacking threat, inviting the shot in and allowing Gündoğan to bury it into Sommer’s goal, a frustrating yet expected start to the game for the hosts.
Switzerland had nine attempts on goal in the first half, but they simply did not take their chances – sound familiar? Seferović was the key culprit, missing chance after chance after chance. The worst of the lot was his close-range blunder, completely slicing his shot when finding himself unmarked in front of goal: a striker’s dream turning into a nightmare.
Seeing the Swiss fail to capitalise is no fresh sight – a lack of cutting edge has cost Switzerland far too often over the years. They were lucky not to see Germany extend their lead in the meantime, needing a fresh overhaul after the break to get back into the game.
Thankfully, Switzerland came out far stronger and determined in the second half, seizing control of the game against a now vulnerable Germany. Xhaka was using his knowledge of Leno, a fellow teammate at Arsenal, to pepper long-range efforts whenever the opportunity arose.
When star striker Seferović could not step up, it was wing-back Silvan Widmer who emerged from the shadows. The FC Basel defender guided his powerful shot into the back of the net, his first goal for Switzerland and a crucial one in the process, in what proved to be a fantastic all-round performance.
A point is a respectable result for the Swiss, finally getting off the mark even if there remains work to be done. They could have snatched the win had they taken their chances, but it should serve as a serve reminder to Petković. If Switzerland do not learn to be more clinical, they will not be able to reach the top level.
Proving their worth was vital ahead of a massive October, where the Nati travel to both Germany and Spain. The problems persist but the potential is there, as Switzerland end the first international break of the year with a decent draw against the Germans.
NATI PLAYER RATINGS
Nati Man of the Match: Silvan Widmer
(Out of 10)
Yann Sommer: 6
Ricardo Rodríguez: 6
Manuel Akanji: 6
Nico Elvedi: 7
Loris Benito: 6
Granit Xhaka: 7
Djibril Sow: 6
Silvan Widmer: 7
Renato Steffen: 5
Haris Seferović: 5
Breel Embolo: 6
Steven Zuber: 6
Ruben Vargas: 6
Michel Aebischer: 5
It is Spain, Switzerland’s next Nations League opponents, who sit top of Group 4 after the first two games. La Roja’s 4-0 thumping of Ukraine puts them in a comfortable position at the peak of the table, but it is all doom and gloom at the bottom for the Nati.
Switzerland travel to Madrid next month to face Spain, as they face off in the Spanish capital on 10th October. Germany will make the trip to Kiev on the same day, when they meet Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine.
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