The Swiss hang tight against Spain, but lose in Penalties


A somewhat opinionated (and slightly drunk) commentary on this wild match.

Scrolling through Twitter looking at activity from the Cooligans and Men In Blazers when I realize, by god! Its already past noon! I’ve missed the kick-off for the game! A quick sprint down the hallway to the kitchen for a can of Miller Lite (more for hydration purposes than effect) and a reach for the remote to flip on the television and I’m shocked to see that Spain are already ahead.

It isn’t a surprise that Spain is leading, but to go ahead so early is impressive for the side, especially considering just how defensive Switzerland seemed like they would be going into this match. I figured the Swiss would hold out with some steadfast defending for at least 20 or 30 minutes. But, alas, what is football if not unpredictable?

Originally tweeted by ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) on July 2, 2021.

Just caught the highlight for the Spanish goal that I missed in the beginning and I’ll be damned if Own Goal doesn’t have itself yet another goal. The golden boot this year will go to defenders who were trying their best, but put it into their own net.

I don’t mean to belittle the goal attempt, however. It was an interesting tactic on the corner, to go for the deep ball and a volley from outside of the 18. well executed, but would not have gone in if the deflection hadn’t happened.

Switzerland has not been to a quarter final in a major tournament since 1954. They just beat defending world champions France in penalties in the Round of 16, so they might be feeling invincible in this game.

Spain is looking pretty good in these first few minutes. It’s almost like the Spain of old. They are knocking the ball around well, making quick passes and looking like a cohesive unit — like a single organism rather than a combination of 11 different people.  That didn’t last long, though. While they did dominate the posession, they are still a shadow of who they once were.

The Swiss had their fair share of counter attacks early on. They work their way up the wing and look for the cross, but it’s a struggle to get into the center of the box. Their main man up top is Seferovic, who plays for my favorite club of Benfica.

Whilst a lot of Benfiquistas like Seferovic, I personally do not care for him one bit. It seems to me that most of his goals come against small teams, and he never shows up during our pitiful European competition runs,  nor against the big Portuguese clubs. He is a sorry replacement for the great Jonas who came before him, but I am biased.

I almost found myself hoping that he would prove me wrong and make some magic happen behind that Spanish back line. One good cross from Shaqiri and Seferovic might be able to tower above the Spaniards and nod a goal in and make his match interesting. But, as usual, Seferovic disappointed me. He left the field in the second half as usually does—without a single shot on goal.

Spain spent the end of the first half sitting back when the Swiss get the ball. With the lack of high pressure, Switzerland are able to retain at least some possession. The Swiss weren’t looking like the underdog everybody has pegged them to be. If they’re lucky, they could get 35% or so. But, how much you have the ball matters much less than what you can do with it.

Spain seeming like they are losing their cool. Making rash challenges, not keeping the ball in their attacking half. Meanwhile Swistzerland have been making some good attacking runs. Perhaps luckily for Spain, the halftime whistle blows.

End of the first half, Swiss have had more chances, and the Spanish have had a whopping 66% possession. The Swiss might be happy to have cracked the 30% possession marker, considering the ball control and passing ability of the Spanish squad.


Halftime means 15 minutes to fix my typos, crack open another Miller Lite,  place some bets, and predict what might happen in the second half.

I hadn’t thought about it until I cracked open my second miller light, but I did live in Switzerland for a few months. Upon thinking about those long wintery nights in Geneva, I ran to my room to grab a beer koozie and dug through my wallet in search of my SwissPass (the equivalent of a MetroCard) and found it. Ah, the memories of when I was an adventurous young lad stumbling through Europe with nothing but Hope and a head full of hair.

And with that silly bit of sentimentality, I fear that much of my objectivity has been compromised. I find myself struggling not to call out “Hop Suisse!”

Second Half

Spain came out stronger then they were in the end of the first half, but the Swiss have got themselves another corner. Their tactic seems to be bring the ball down the line and rip a cross in, even if its unlikely to be completed, half-hoping for a deflection and a corner.

Shaqiri just tried to score off his corner! The mad lad tried to curve it into the goal from the corner shot when he saw the keeper a bit off his line and the Liverpool winger wasn’t too far off. Something about left-footed players and set-pieces. They just have the cojones to try wild things.

Morata was subbed out in the 53rd minute. No surprise there. The striker is under a lot of pressure to be “The Man”, and he hasn’t provided. I don’t think he’s a bad player, but he clearly has not handled the pressure that media has given him all tournament. How can he, though? The papers and pundits seem to think of him as some sort of messianic striker, and he simply isn’t that. He’s a decent striker on a decent squad. You can’t make gold from copper. I really do like Morata, and I think the 28-year-old still has his best years ahead of him once he heals from the mental wounds of this tournament.

Corner after corner for the Swiss. Spain don’t seem to be taking them seriously enough. 

Spain with another creative set-piece, going for a chip, chest trap, to volley. They have adapted well, accepting their height deficiency against the Swiss and going for creative volleys instead.

THE SWISS. Shaqiri, that bulky bulldozer of a man, has slotted a goal into the far post after a great side pass from Freuler, who plays for Atalanta in the Italian Serie A. The captain. The beast. The pride of Switzerland.Shaqiri has scored.

Originally tweeted by ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) on July 2, 2021.

Shaqiri looks like a boy at an amusement park after he scored his goal. He is electric, sprinting and jumping around as if there is no energy to lose.

Spain spent the rest of the second half knocking on the door. They were not happy to have lost their lead.

Remo Freuler was given a red card from the ref in the 77th minute. Michael Oliver gave a straight red to the Atalanta man with an assist today. It’s a harsh call, considering the Swiss #8 got the ball first on his sliding tackle. The studs of his cleat did make contact with the Spaniard, but in no way should it have been a red card. You have to wonder what could drive a referee to make such a harsh and clearly controversial call with only 13 minutes to go in a tied match…

If anything, Oliver should have given the player a yellow card and then checked VAR to make sure of it. You must give the players the benefit of the doubt when it comes to these things, especially when you have the advantage of VAR to double check your decisions. VAR can’t do much about a straight red card, though, so Freuler will have to leave the field.

From my seat on the couch, it looked like the ref was surprised himself when he showed the red card. He lifted that fiery card into the sky like he was wielding a beacon of all that is damned and terrible. Like the eye of Sauron cast upon this match. And then he glanced up at the card, almost as if he was making sure he had grabbed the right one. Perhaps second-guessing his decision? Well, it’s too late now. what’s done is done, and the Swiss will have to find a way to deal with this decision.

Originally tweeted by ESPN+ (@ESPNPlus) on July 2, 2021.

Speculation and opinion aside, one thing is for certain. Switzerland is in trouble now.

Shaqiri is subbed off late in the second half. Looks like the Swiss are going to have to hang tight and defend in hopes for penalty kicks.

Five minutes left and the energy levels are low. The Spanish desperately tried to close this game out within regulation time, as that extra thirty minutes of play in extra time can really drain a team. But despite their attacking efforts, they always looked a little too sloppy to polish this game off. The game went to extra time.

Spain came out swinging immediately in extra time, making chances.

Jordi Alba nearly took matters into his own hands, as he often does, with a wicked shot from outside the 18. The Spanish kept pushing on the attack, hoping to get ahead, and desperate not to bring the game into penalties, especially since Spain have missed their last five penalty attempts.

How many chances for Spain in extra time? Cross after cross, shot after shot, but most attempts go right to Sommer, the Swiss keeper.

Spain with the best chance so far as it bounces around in the air before a venomous volley is ripped at the net, but the Swiss keeper throws his hands up in time to stop the shot from close range.

Sommer with a diving save to push the ball out of the way, followed by a heroic, herculean punch on the following corner. If he keeps this up, Sommer might just have a statue of himself erected in Geneva.

Originally tweeted by ESPN+ (@ESPNPlus) on July 2, 2021.

The Spanish just kept making chances. Volley after volley! Half-volleys, side-footed volleys, chest trap to laces volley…. These Spaniards have been doing their aerial drills. The chances are beautiful, but they just cannot get past Sommer.

The Swiss succeeded in bringing the game into penalty kicks, but the Spanish score three out of five despite hitting the woodwork on their first attempt and Sommer’s save. Simone had a couple of clutch saves, and Spain are through to the semis.

Leave a Reply