Recaps and game analysis to follow one or two hours after each match.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Game 16: Spain vs Switzerland

Today Switzerland made history by beating Spain, with a score of 1-0, for the first time ever in the first week of World Cup play at Durban Stadium, continuing their streak of five world cup games in a row without having conceded a single goal.

Spain, who dominated almost every faucet of the game, would be unable to score against the Swiss, who's aggressive and indomitable defense would prove too much for the possession based Spaniards. Committing 19 fouls and only controlling 26% of the possession, Switzerland was constantly on the defensive, but in the 52nd minute they would capitalize on one of only a few chances, when Gelson Fernandes would score with a tap in after some sloppy defense from the Spanish side, which allowed a Switzerland attacker a one-on-one chance with Iker Casillas. Casillas would miss the ball with his feet, but knocking the attacker over, which created a loose ball for Fernandes to jump onto.

Spain would try to rally themselves, by bringing on more attacking options in Fernando Torres, Jesus Navas, and Pedro, and although the substitutes had an immediate effect, they would constantly find themselves coming up short. As the minutes passed by, Switzerland would constantly put more bodies behind the goal as Spain would tally for a total of twenty-five shots, but only five on target. The Goalkeeper Diego Benaglio, of Switzerland, would have a very impressive game, making many game saving plays, against such players as Torres, Pique, and Iniesta.

Spain's best chance was in the 70th minute, when a corner kick was layed off for Xabi Alonso, who would strike the ball with a vengeance only to see it smash against the crossbar. In the last ten minutes Spain would become desperate, constantly attacking and keeping the ball in Switzerland's third of the field for the majority of the time. Unfortunately for la Furia Roja, the final whistle would blow, giving Switzerland the first major upset and giant-killing of the tournament.

Andres Iniesta, a player already dealing with injury problems, was substituted off in the 77th minute, adding to the woes of the Spanish Team.

Spain next play Honduras on June the 21st at Ellis Park, while Switzerland will play Chile, also on the 21st, at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

It would seem that the Spanish Coach did not know what to fully expect when facing the Swiss, because I don't believe the 4-5-1 formation, with David Villa as the lone striker, works against a solid defense such as Switzerland. Instead, Spain should have started with the partnership of Villa and Torres so they could work off of each other, and help pull defenders away. Even if Torres was hurt, Navas or Pedro would have been suitable replacements. Ultimately, Spain got a little unlucky, as Switzerland was able to capitalize on their only real chance. As a result Spain will need to really redress their ranks, with the midfielders in particular working on their shooting.

Switzerland is a defensive team, but they got lucky this game, having scored a goal to get the win instead of a draw. Without Alexander Frei due to injury, the Swiss will really have to start attacking, instead of sitting back and defending constantly. All in all, the Swiss may have been completely dominated, but they still won, that is the nature of football.

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