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Swiss media revel in "Miracle of Durban"

One newspaper said Switzerland was a like "madhouse" after the match


Switzerland’s shock victory over European champions Spain in their first group match of the 2010 World Cup took centre-stage in Swiss front pages on Thursday.

Some papers reverted to Spanish to express their delight. “Olé, Olé, Olé,” trumpeted the tabloid Blick. “Grandioso!” shouted La Liberté.

Most could not contain themselves. “Switzerland is in seventh heaven,” said the Basler Zeitung, while the Neue Zürcher Zeitung wrote “Switzerland is over the moon.”

Credit went to new coach Ottmar Hitzfeld for making sure his players were in peak condition beforehand and for equipping the team with the best tactics for the Spain match.

La Tribune de Genève called him the “German sorcerer” for his ability to predict how the Spanish would play and how much they would have possession of the ball.

In fact, Hitzfeld is seen by some as a holy man.

“Saint Ottmar. Give him a Swiss passport! Switzerland 1:0 against unbeatable Spain. The world is amazed at our historic victory,” said the tabloid Blick.

“The man is not known as ‘Gottmar’ [a play on the German word for God] for nothing, there is definitely something of the divine about him because all his predictions came true,” said the Tribune de Genève.

“It is the difference between great trainers and the rest. Hitzfeld predicted everything. Make no mistake: Switzerland’s victory yesterday, against on the World Cup favourites, is extraordinary. The temptation will be to see it as the miracle of Durban.”

“Sensational, staggering” Spain-beaters

“Sensational. Quite simply sensational,” said La Liberté. “A match of solidarity. They knew it. A match of courage. They had it.”

Le Temps described the match as the most “staggering in Swiss football history”.

“This unexpected victory – the first against Spain in 19 matches – owes a lot to the optimal preparation – physical, psychological and tactical – of the team,” wrote the newspaper. “Preparation designed by Ottmar Hitzfeld, the German gentleman who has confirmed, once again, his formidable reputation as a successful trainer.”

Despite the euphoria from Wednesday’s match, Hitzfeld was taking it in his stride and looking to the games ahead.

Following the match he said the team delivered a “great performance”, using tactics of playing “compactly”, keep strength in numbers. “The quality of our formation did not give Spain many opportunities. We were really able to evade them.”

Raising the game

He said the win had boosted their confidence ahead of their next match against Chile, but warned: “To get a result against the South Americans my players will have to raise their game.”

His feelings were echoed by the players. “We have to keep both feet on the ground,” said Wednesday's scorer Gelson Fernandes.

The surprise outcome of the match was echoed outside Switzerland. Britain’s Sun newspaper said: “We have lift off. Swiss stunner sets World Cup alight.”

“Unflinching Swiss gives Spain a jolt,” said the New York Times. “The Swiss do William Tell proud,” said the International Herald Tribune.

Celebrations back home went on into the night. Amid reports of the vuvuzela trumpets selling out in Switzerland, papers splashed photos of Swiss fans taking to the streets post-match.

The free daily 20 Minuten said “the whole country was a madhouse” after the match, with “noisy motorcades honking and using vuvuzelas in Zurich, Chur and Lausanne, bringing traffic to a standstill”. In Bern, hundreds of fans celebrated outside parliament and Interior Minister Didier Burkhalter kicked an imaginary ball into the air.

“Zurich fizzed over with joy,” wrote the Tages-Anzeiger.

“Langstrasse turned into a red-white corridor yesterday after 6pm. Fans came from all directions, It was a colourful mix of people from all walks of life and of all skin tones: bankers without ties, boys in Juventus strips and with a Swiss scarf round their necks, blondes in tight red tops, a Bob Marley fan with a Swiss flag, Asians with glasses painted with the Swiss flag.”

Taking the festivities one step further, the Blick newspaper reported that the biggest retailer, Migros, was offering a ten per cent discount on goods in its shops on Thursday because of the win.

Jessica Dacey,


Switzerland beat European champions Spain 1-0 in the first of their three group matches of the 2010 football World Cup on June 16.

A messy goal by Gelson Fernandes in the 52nd minute gave the Swiss their first win in a World Cup opening match since 1954, when they beat Italy 2-1.

The Swiss were massive underdogs going into Wednesday’s match in the 62,760-seat Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, South Africa. Bookmakers had made Spain overall favourites to lift the Jules Rimet trophy on July 11.

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The World Cup groups

Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France

Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece

Group C: England, United States, Algeria, Slovenia

Group D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana

Group E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon

Group F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia

Group G: Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal

Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile

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Swiss match dates

June 21: Chile
June 25: Honduras

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