Smash n’ Grab Job as Spain Humbled

by Michael Somerville

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Spain 0
Switzerland 1

Spain slumped to a shocking defeat at the hands of minnows Switzerland, who produced one of the biggest World Cup shocks ever.

It was Spain’s second defeat since winning Euro 2008 and the architects of ‘total football’ were left terribly frustrated after Switzerland delivered a resolute defensive performance.

Gerard Pique received a searching pass and produced some sublime and nimble footwork, but his early shot was impressively parried away by Swiss keeper Diego Benaglio. Spain continued to pressure Switzerland down the flanks and through the middle, but Switzerland held firm amid the onslaught. It’s likely that they were missing usual captain Alexander Frei but the striker looks to miss the finals. And when important centre- back Phillipe Senderos pulled up with a injury the second half didn’t exactly look promising for the Swiss with the Spaniards enjoying 71% possession.

Xabi Alonso had a good effort on goal just before the break, but his shot was deflected wide by a Swiss defensive header.

Switzerland somehow took the lead after a route one move that gave defender Gerard Pique a boxers style cut to the face. Ex Man City star Gelson Fernandes managed to tap in after a scrappy and ridiculous build up to the goal- bundling in from 2 yards.

After Switzerland scored, they became more comfortable at the back and even made some decent inroads up front.

Fernando Torres came on for Busquets as Spain attempted to avoid one of the greatest World Cup shocks of all time, presumably the aim of getting behind the defence with pace. The Liverpool star found it just as difficult to get round the defence (minus Senderos) as he looked rusty; his first touch heavy whenever he got an opportunity in front of goal. Xabi Alonso hit the bar with an absolutely scorching effort from 25 yards in the second half, but it bounced back with such ferocity that no Spanish player could get in the rebound and was cleared again by the Swiss.

Jesus Navas was making a real impact on the right wing, but as we’ve seen with so many top teams at this tournament- they hugely struggled to break the ‘smaller’ teams down.

Durdiyok then unbelievably hit the bar for Switzerland after a neat one- two with Nukufo took him past Pique and Pique, but his shot hit the right hand post that had Casillas beaten.

Credit must be due to manager Ottmar Hitzfeld who has undoubtedly seen his stock rise (if it wasn’t already) – he’s one of only two coaches to win the European Cup/ Champions League with two different sides (Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.)

Switzerland hung on after more Spanish pressing, but you felt that Spain, with all their attacking options, just didn’t have the end product for all their intricate and dazzling midfield play.

A highly compelling game of football and one that will greatly anger the Spanish who had such high hopes for this tournament. Gerard Pique was seen booting an advertising hoarding after the final whistle- summing up the Spanish collective mood.

Follow my reports where I’ll be blogging on every World Cup match in South Africa with refreshing reactions and insight.

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  • Darren

    at last, something has happened in South Africa.

    As I predicted, Spain will pass themselves out of the tournament!!

  • micky

    true say man, Spain are just like Arsenal! Over pass, over pass, over pass.

    Well done to the Swiss

  • chef

    well i wasnt suprised….
    they know this path……
    they got the euro
    but one swallow dont make a summer ,,,
    and im afraid they choked and gagged
    and were made to…………..
    thier pride,,,,…
    yet again

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