Switzerland’s media have applauded the performance of the national football team, which has progressed to the last 16 of the World Cup in Brazil with an impressive 3-0 victory over Honduras – courtesy of a hat-trick from striker Xherdan Shaqiri.
“We have our own Messi!”, “Jungle king Shaq”, “The answer of the artist” or “Enter Shaqiri” were some of the headlines in Swiss newspapers on Thursday.
All of them praised the reaction of the Bayern Munich playmaker, who had been criticised for his performance in the first two qualifying matches.
Shaqiri’s hat trick was “the perfect response” to the criticism that hailed down on him after the France match, the Tages-Anzeiger commented.
“There was no cure to be found against him in the jungle: Shaq jabbed Honduras three times like a mosquito,” wrote Blick, alluding to the fact that the match took place in Manaus, deep in the Amazon at 26 degrees Celsius and 80% humidity.
After being humbled 5-2 against France last time out, the Swiss squad left no doubt about its qualities against Honduras. Shaqiri, who was the man of the match, stressed that it was a team effort.
This fact was also honoured by the Tages-Anzeiger, which said it was Shaqiri’s evening, but it also belonged to Josip Drmic, who made the two passes that led to the second and third goals.
For the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) it was the “solid team performance” which led to the success of the Swiss squad.
“Under difficult circumstances in tropical Manaus the Swiss returned to the traditional virtues of a simple game, after they had previously lost themselves in individual performances and paid dearly for it,” the NZZ wrote.
The pressure was enormous, the conditions difficult, Blick added. Still, Switzerland “in the end masterfully reached the minimum target”.
Some newspapers remained cautious. With its victory, the team “met its target, but that’s all”, the NZZ pointed out. The Swiss will be able to play Argentina without pressure, but against the two-time champions the Swiss national team only ranks as outsider.
“Whether they cut a fine figure will be clear in six days’ time at the Corinthians Arena in São Paulo,” the NZZ added.
The international media were also moderately enthusiastic about the Swiss performance.
Spiegel online was not convinced. “This was not impressive, but it was sufficient,” the German magazine wrote. After a stormy beginning, the Swiss squad took it easy, it commented, hinting at the weaker performance in the second half, where Honduras had more goal scoring opportunities and was denied a penalty kick.
Germany’s online sports magazine Kicker said the victory was “confident but not always convincing”. After many words, the Swiss national team walked the talk.
Most newspapers saw the match against Honduras as a test of the team’s maturity. At the World Cup in South Africa four years ago, the Swiss squad faced exactly the same situation. They needed to beat Honduras to get through to the knock-out round, but all they managed was a goalless draw.
This time round, the team banished those ghosts. In a comment, the Tages-Anzeiger said Switzerland had passed this examination with its qualification for the second round, where it will now face Argentina and superstar Lionel Messi.
The team “graduated with flying colours”, Blick also commented, adding that Switzerland now has nothing to lose. “The business is done, now for fun. We’ll dance a tango with Argentina.”
By Chantal Britt, swissinfo.ch,