Sports

Switzerland bid to summon spirit of 1954 World Cup

Switzerland bid to summon spirit of 1954 World Cup

Three clean sheets in four matches underlines their organisation and discipline - although they will be without suspended defender Mikael Lustig against England.

He had little to work with when he did find space and get his head up, but was deserving of his luck when he cut in on his right foot in the 66th minute and took a shot that was deflected past Yann Sommer and into the net. They came closest to hitting the target when Blerim Dzemaili drilled an attempt over the bar after combining with Steven Zuber on the left.

After a barren first period in which chances were at a premium, the teams came on much stronger in the second half, determined to get the better of the other.

"They have done precisely what they're very good at", Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic said, "and that might have been enough to beat us".

The Swiss shook off the cagey start to drastically improve their team play and positioning, but they had only themselves to blame for wayward crosses and shots as displayed by Xhaka and Shaqiri.

Switzerland found it hard and Sweden held on to keep their third clean sheet in four games at this World Cup.

This defeat was Switzerland's first since October 2017 when they lost 2-0 to Portugal in a World Cup qualifier, ending a run of nine unbeaten matches.

Sweden's match-winner against Switzerland was the best player on the pitch in Saint Petersburg - and the number 10, his country's top creator, will be one England must keep a close eye on in Samara.

"If we've played 120 minutes we have a clear plan in place of what we're going to do, but I'm not going to enter into any more details". I've understood that we won the match today and went through the last 16.

"If you want to achieve something you have to be here on these important games and try to win these games", Xherdan Shaqiri said. He can pick a pass too, and made more assists than any other player in the Bundesliga in 2016/17.

It was the RB Leipzig winger's first goal of the tournament with his 14th shot, improving what had been a frustrating World Cup for him even as Sweden impressed, topping Group F and eliminating reigning champions Germany in the process.

Sweden coach Janne Andersson's admission that he has a list of penalty takers sorted in his mind before the match tells its own story, and given each team's well-drilled defence, a penalty shootout is not beyond the realms of possibility. "We know we are a good team, that we've earned our successes - we know how we got this far", the 55-year-old explained.

A low-quality match featured some of the worst finishing seen so far at the World Cup, and two efforts stood out.

"We have a gameplan and they do not stray from it one millimeter", said Andersson of his team, aside making up for its lack of superstars - notably Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who retired from global football after Euro 2016 - with unity and spirit. But we need to digest this quickly as we have another game coming up soon, on Saturday.


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