Swiss football team ‘sheds burden of history’

Swiss football fans took to the streets to celebrate their side's victory against France (there is no longer any requirement for people to wear masks outdoors in Switzerland). Keystone / Ennio Leanza

The Swiss national football team has reached the quarterfinals of a major tournament for the first time since 1954 with a dramatic victory against France.

This content was published on June 29, 2021 - 10:29

Switzerland beat the reigning world champions 5-4 on penalties after the two sides traded three goals apiece over 120 minutes of a dramatic see-saw match.

The victory in the last 16 stage of the European Football Championship (Euro 2020) on Monday night sparked scenes of celebration throughout the country.

“Last night we witnessed an explosion of joy in every city in Switzerland,” proclaimed the Le Temps newspaperExternal link. “The historic victory of the national football team overwhelmed a nation with happiness.”

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung said the team had “shed the burden of historyExternal link” after 67 years of failing to qualify for the last eight of either the Euros or the World Cup.

Despite starting the match in Bucharest as underdogs, Switzerland went into an early lead and missed a penalty before France stormed back to score three goals. Two Swiss strikes in the last ten minutes forced the match into extra-time and then into a penalty shoot-out with the score tied at 3-3.

Switzerland scored all five of their penalties before goalkeeper Yann Sommer saved the last French effort to send his side into a quarterfinal meeting with Spain on Friday.

‘Well-drilled but limited’

The French media was unforgiving of their team, with Le Figaro condemning their performance as a “collective shipwreckExternal link”.

International media headlines focused on France’s failure rather than the success of the Swiss team. Switzerland “defied logic and formExternal link” to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, says the British Guardian.

The New York Times appears amazedExternal link that a “well-drilled, but limited – and also quite uninspiring – Swiss team” could pull off such a result.

But all agree that Switzerland contributed to a dramatic and absorbing day of football – Spain had beaten Croatia in an earlier rollercoaster match. “Magic Monday - the best day in Euros history?External link” asks the BBC Sport website.

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