Footballers hold world champions to a draw

Switzerland have drawn 0-0 with Italy in a friendly which they could easily have won, less than a month ahead of a crucial 2010 World Cup qualifier against Greece.

This content was published on August 12, 2009 - 22:36

Switzerland's coach Ottmar Hitzfeld can take heart from an impressively solid performance against an Italian side that included several World Cup winners.

Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio - recently voted player of the year by fans - kept his side in the game, which was played in Basel, with a string of fine saves.

The best Swiss chance fell to Tranquillo Barnetta in the 34th minute, when he hit the cross bar, and in the 50th, when he just failed to get onto the end of a cross from Nkufo.

Gelson Fernandes started the match in place of Benjamin Huggel, but otherwise there were no surprises in the Swiss line-up.

Philipp Degen played his first match for his country after more than a year off injured. He will replace Stephan Lichtsteiner who is suspended for the Greek match.

The Swiss are currently second in their group behind Greece. Both teams have 13 points but the Greeks have a superior goal difference. Only the top finisher is guaranteed a trip to South Africa.

The Swiss have played six of ten world cup qualifiers, with their next, a pivotal match against Greece, taking place in Basel on September 5.

Switzerland: Benaglio; Degen (substituted in the 69th minute by Schwegler), Senderos, Grichting, Magnin (87 Ziegler); Padalino (84 Derdiyok), Fernandes, Inler, Barnetta (79 Vonlanthen); Frei (69 Yakin), Nkufo (69 Streller).

Italy: Buffon; Zambrotta (46 Santon), Cannavaro, Cheillini, Criscito; Camoranesi (31 Pepe), Palombo, Pirlo (61 D'Agostino), Marchisio (72 Grosso); Gilardino (46 Iaquinta), Rossi (61 Quagliarella). and agencies

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