After Switzerland’s World Cup football hopes ended with a goalless draw against Honduras on Friday, the Swiss press is not kind to the team.
The team’s unexpected victory against Spain in the opening match of the first round had made anything seem possible, but as the German-language Neue Zürcher Zeitung put it, that victory was “deceptive and dangerous, because it blurred reality and raised hopes”.
Despite the disappointment after what they agree to have been a lacklustre game, the Swiss press have little sympathy with the team.
“We are out. And we didn’t deserve anything better,” says the German-language tabloid Blick on its front page.”
Its sports page continues: “It’s the saddest 0:0 of all time. The national team came unstuck faced with a country like Honduras. It’s enough to make you howl!”
Another German-language paper, the Tages-Anzeiger chose for its headline: “Failed thanks to a lack of ability”.
“Any team unable to score a single goal against such a modest Honduras doesn’t deserve to get any further,” it says.
While the papers are generally agreed that the Swiss defence is good, with goalkeeper Diego Benaglio picked out for special praise, they also agree that it is weak in attack.
The Neue Zürcher Zeitung commented that the stable defence had not been enough without offensive skills. “The will is certainly there, but not the creativity,” it said.
The Tages-Anzeiger uses similar words. It regrets that the Swiss team lacks players with “creative and athletic abilities”.
Le Temps of Geneva calls Switzerland’s elimination “logical, given the yawning gaps in our offence.”
The Tribune de Genève speaks of the same “huge gaps”. “Without solutions, without ideas, the Swiss internationals failed completely in Bloemfontein yesterday,” it says.
Le Matin of Lausanne says the Swiss failed because after their exploit against Spain “they didn’t manage to achieve the transition from defensive to offensive play”.
“It is difficult to beat Switzerland, but it isn’t necessarily difficult not to lose against them,” the paper comments.
Blick puts a more positive spin on that aspect of the Swiss game. It points out that Switzerland set a new world record by playing 558 minutes without conceding a goal. “The football world sees this as another positive sign that Swiss football is slowly but surely developing,” it claims.
But the Tribune de Genève sums up the bitter disappointment Swiss fans will be feeling: “To beat Spain, only to ‘die’ against Honduras. That was Switzerland’s fate.”
The performance of coach Ottmar Hitzfeld comes under scrutiny too.
The Tages-Anzeiger has some harsh words, although it admits that he showed himself both professional and hard-working.
“He can be reproached for not having coached the team well enough against Chile and Honduras,” the paper says.
Le Temps is a bit more sympathetic. “Despite all his knowledge and the divine skills people have been happy to attribute to him, coach Ottmar Hitzfeld couldn’t score goals personally.”
“It is difficult to fight your way through into the world’s 16 best nations if you don’t have a single world-class player in your ranks.
The Neue Zürcher Zeitung takes a similar line. “Even Ottmar Hitzfeld comes up against barriers and even he can’t simply break through them. Swiss footballers remain Swiss footballers.”
Blick’s editorial nevertheless tries to draw a positive conclusion from the defeat.
“It may sound crazy after the Honduras match, but the first couple of years under Ottmar Hitzfeld have brought the team further forwards.” It points out that Switzerland had been top of its qualifying group and won a “historic victory” over Spain.
The Neue Zürcher Zeitung has some words of comfort. It is not a humiliation to be eliminated in a group consisting of European champions Spain, and second-placed Latin Americans Chile, it says. And it points out that France and Italy, both recent cup holders, have also been knocked out.
It predicts changes in the team, with some of the older players going, but says there are a number of younger players “with a future, who are capable of developing”.
“Perhaps the Swiss will be a tad bolder and sassier in the qualification matches for Euro 2012. That is something to be hoped, anyway,” it concludes.
Julia Slater, swissinfo.ch
Switzerland: Diego Benaglio; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Steven Von Bergen, Stéphane Grichting, Reto Ziegler; Tranquillo Barnetta, Benjamin Huggel (Xherdan Shaqiri 77.min), Gökhan Inler, Gelson Fernandes (46.min Hakan Yakin); Eren Derdiyok; Blaise Nkufo (Alex Frei, 69.min).
Honduras: Noel Valladares, Osman Chavez, Maynor Figueroa, Victor Bernardez, Hendry Thomas, Ramon Nunez, (Walter Martinez,67. min), Wilson Palacios (Georgie Welcome 77.min), Jerry Palacios, David Suazo (Danilo Turcios 86.min), Mauricio Sabillon, Edgard Alvarez.