A footballer who drives a Lamborghini must also play like a Lamborghini. That’s what Alexander Frei said, and because Alexander Frei, 41, is the record scorer for the Swiss national team, it must be right – no matter how a Lamborghini plays football, it is probably quick and elegant. After the previous EM appearances, the professionals of the Confederations, who recently got their compatriots on the down-to-earth nerves with extravagant cars and equally extravagant hairstyles, deserved a ten-year-old mid-range car with a dented bumper. And what about Sunday evening’s opponent, Turkey? Go on foot or curfew right away.
The disappointed in Group A met in Baku to avert what they saw as the worst. They had each experienced a 3-0 defeat against Italy, Switzerland had previously taken at least one point against Wales, while Turkey also lost to this opponent.
The team of coach Senol Günes could only hope for the big miracle: win big and then reach the round of 16 as one of the four best thirds in the group. In the best case scenario, the Swiss could justify their cars and hair with second place, at least if the Welsh, clearly defeated on paper, were clearly defeated in the parallel game against Italy on the pitch.
Turkey was able to tick off their miracle quickly, and the Swiss did not achieve their maximum goal either: They won 3: 1 (2: 0), which was not quite enough for second place. The hope of qualifying via third place is justified with four points – and the critical compatriots should be appeased for now. That was an important goal, as double-goal scorer Xherdan Shaqiri explained on Magenta TV: “It was important to show a reaction as a unit, as a team,” he said, “we knew that we could create a lot of chances against this opponent.”
In the sixth minute, the first red Lamborghinis rushed onto the Turkish goal. Via Gladbach’s Breel Embolo and Frankfurt’s Steven Zuber, the ball got to Haris Seferovic, the Benfica Lisbon goalscorer, who scored 1-0 from the edge of the penalty area. As a result, Turkey had more goals, but mostly harmless from a distance; The Swiss showed the much better playing system and let the second goal follow: After a loss of the ball by Seferovic, Zuber followed up and passed the leisurely Turkish strollers across to Shaqiri, who sent the ball into the top right corner of the goal (26th). He had resolved to “do more of the graduation,” he reported after the game.
Indeed: only two minutes later Shaqiri could have scored the third goal when he ran unmarked after a pass from Seferovic, but he failed at the Turkish goalkeeper Ugurcan Cakir. In the 33rd minute, one of the many long-range shots by the Turks became dangerous, but the Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer parried against Mert Müldür. Shortly before the break, things got tricky again on both sides: A shot by Seferovic was blocked, and after the counterattack that followed, Sommer parried again against Müldür.
The many Turkish fans became increasingly disgruntled
The question now was how the goal difference between the Swiss and the Welsh would develop – at the break, second place had to catch up two more goals. Accordingly, the Confederates pushed for more hits, and the many Turkish fans in Baku were slowly getting grumpy. And the four outstanding Swiss showed up again: Zuber and Embolo failed to Cekir, Shaqiri shot over the crossbar, Seferovic just missed.
Slowly, not only the Turks had to be annoyed about their so-called defense, but also the Swiss about their chances – and it promptly took revenge: Irfan Can shortened to 2-1 (62nd) with a long shot. Six minutes later Shaqiri restored the old gap after a counterattack, but it was no longer enough for second place, as Italy only narrowly beat Wales 1-0.