Swiss shock for Spain
Spain’s pain in South Africa continues. On Wednesday, less than a year after they lost 0-2 to the USA in a Confederations Cup semi-final in Bloemfontein, they were stunned by unfancied Switzerland, a first for the Swiss in 19 attempts. Dhiman Sarkar reports. Few goals, many draws | See Specialsports Updated: Jun 17, 2010 07:09 IST
Spain’s pain in South Africa continues.
On Wednesday, less than a year after they lost 0-2 to the USA in a Confederations Cup semi-final in Bloemfontein, they were stunned by unfancied Switzerland, a first for the Swiss in 19 attempts.
Even after Gelson Fernandes scrambled a goal, with over half an hour of play left, few thought the spectacular Moses Mabhida Stadium would see an upset — after all, Spain, the European champions, had looked like scoring from the moment this Group H match began. They had elegantly stroked the ball, getting to work early in one of football’s most imposing cathedrals. Off-loaded by Manchester United before blossoming in Barcelona, even Gerard Pique, who earns his keep as a defender, looked comfortable going forward.
And the second half began as the first ended, with Spain marching imperiously into Switzerland’s penalty area — only to fluff their lines repeatedly. And in the middle of a torrent of Spanish attacks, Fernandes made the most of a ricochet after Eren Derdiyok was denied by Real Madrid goalminder Iker Casillas.
This Spanish side has been dubbed by some as the best the country has ever assembled.
But even the combined efforts of Fernando Torres, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, David Villa and David Silva weren't enough to fetch the equaliser. The closest they came was a Xabi Alonso missile that rocked the bar. They also got lucky that Derdiyok's jab hit the upright.
Spain's reputation preceded their coming. Patrick Vieira and Geoff Hurst extolled their virtues and, a day later, so did Maradona. God knows what Ottmar Hitzfeld, Switzerland's German coach once voted World Coach of the Year, and his team, made of this hype. The Spanish conquest of the WC may still happen but their start has been anything but auspicious.