With a goal deep in stoppage time, Switzerland’s national football team won its opening match at the World Cup in Brazil with a 2-1 against Ecuador. It was a relief for players, coach Ottmar Hitzfeld and the fans, yet the media has identified room for improvement.
“A perfect football evening ʻin the nick of timeʼ”, “A second victory is needed – urgently”, “Joy prevails”, “The dreamers can continue to hope”, “Hitzfeld’s knack”, “Combatting slowness”, “Let’s keep our feet on the ground” were some of the headlines in Swiss newspapers.
Enner Valencia had given Ecuador the lead before Switzerland equalised with Admir Mehmedi – a substitute – heading home from close range at Estadio Nacional in Brasilia. The low-quality match looked destined to end in a draw until another substitute, Haris Seferovic, fired home the winner from close range in the last of three minutes of injury time.
“This is the stuff football dreams are made of: to score the decisive goal in the last minutes of an important world cup match,” wrote the Neue Luzerner Zeitung. Seferovic, of all players, was the one to save the Swiss team. His nomination had been strongly questioned.
Still, there is no reason “to be smug about the three points”, the Lucerne-based paper pointed out. “In the offence there was a lack of concept, not even a glimpse of a sure road to success. There was no creativity, no inspiration, nothing.”
For a long time, Hitzfeld’s team was missing the “necessary willingness to run”, the Oltner Tagblatt said. “During the first 45 minutes, the respective Swiss ball carrier was probably the poorest person on the pitch. Where should he pass the ball, if nobody wants it?”
It was a difficult match for the national squad, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung commented. “It was 0-1 behind and didn’t come back into the match and disappointed particularly in the first half with a nervous and sloppy performance. The team only showed some quality shortly before the final whistle. It had the will to never give up and to fight for victory until the end.”
“Such release, such surprise, such joy!” Blick wrote. “Keep it up, dear national squad. If you finish in such a way, then you may also keep us in suspense a bit from time to time.”
Many newspapers, including Blick, applauded Valon Behrami’s effort in added time. He blocked a shot in the Swiss penalty area and initiated the counter leading to the winning goal.
“Nothing better could have happened to the Swiss national team,” the Basler Zeitung commented. “Without playing well, without convincing, it won its first world cup game against Ecuador. In the second half it was lacking simply everything required at that level.”
Switzerland had started very nervously into the match, which led to an abnormally high error rate, the Aargauer Zeitung wrote. It was an “unsightly” performance of the Swiss team in the first half. But the team won, and in the final reckoning nobody will ask how the victory was achieved.
The 2:1 victory is half the battle for the qualification for the last 16, but there is nothing to crow about. The Swiss national team failed to deliver, particularly the confirmation that it is the best national squad ever, the Aarau-based newspaper wrote.
Aargauer Zeitung said “the Swiss better initiate an ascending run against France [who beat Honduras 3-0 yesterday] because it will surely will get opponents who have the qualities required to mercilessly punish a performance like that of the Swiss team yesterday”.