The 1-0 win over Portugal improves Switzerland’s record in the Nations League and sparks cautious confidence in the World Cup.
After the pink autumn with the World Cup qualifiers, this international match for Switzerland until the victory over Portugal on Sunday was a defining situation that also revealed its shortcomings.
For the first time since his appointment as a national coach, Murat Yakin has had to deal with the full dimensions of his job. The defeat in England and the draw against Kosovo in the friendlies in March was not worrisome yet, but finally after the undisputed 0:4 in Lisbon as part of the Nations League, the criticism is louder.
Victory with Signal Effect
Even if officials continue to project their self-confidence to the outside, the five matches he hasn’t won should undermine self-confidence.
The reactions of the players and the coach in Geneva showed how important it is to have a good feeling after 1-0 on Sunday for the rest of the year with the World Cup next in November. “It’s good for the team to beat a big opponent,” Yakin said.
Perhaps the 47-year-old gained other insights:
1. Xhaka remains the chief in court
Once again the captain showed several faces in this group. After modest performances against the Czech Republic and Portugal, Granit Xhaka upped the ante and proved once again that he can draw his strength from pressure and criticism.
In his key role in front of the defense, the 29-year-old performed as usual on Sunday and was praised openly by Yakin for his leadership qualities. The coach and captain previously tried to deny rumors of a possible conflict. When Arsenal Mercenaries reach their heights, he is and always will be the heart of the team.
2. It would be difficult without the top performers
Swiss national team expert Benjamin Huegel analyzed the performance against Portugal: “It shows that the best possible formation has to be on the pitch for such loopholes to be possible.” This was particularly noticeable in defence, where Manuel Akanji and Nico Elvedi both recovered from their injuries.
In the usual formation, the duo have regained their old strength and safety – with positive effects on the rest of the team. Although Ricardo Rodriguez hasn’t always appeared confident in the left-back, it’s likely there will be no overtaking the World Cup veteran. Sylvain Widmer also has good cards: “Widmer obviously won the race against Kevin Mbabu on the right,” Huegel said.
Under the storm, the expert hopes goalkeeper Seferovic can get more time at Benfica Lisbon in the fall or avoid injuries. “It’s very important to Natty, also because he’s been there for such a long time.” He scored against Portugal his 25th goal for Switzerland in his 86th match.
3. A question mark around Shaqiri
Xherdan Shaqiri, who will be playing his sixth final round in a major tournament in Qatar, has another goal to his credit. As long as he stays healthy: Once again, the 30-year-old had a hip problem in Geneva and had to be replaced before the break.
He gets a lot of playing time at the Chicago Fire, but he plays for a club that doesn’t play the number one violin in the Major League Soccer. It remains to be seen if he can continue to develop the influence of the past days in the national team.
The foundation has been laid
Summer vacation will be useful to the players and SFV crew to make a clean layout. The Nations League matches could have unfolded unexpectedly.
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