Except for the incredible ending, the match between Switzerland and Ecuador was not one for the purists, but it was an energetic, all action affair. Switzerland’s last gasp winner means that after nine games in this World Cup, there has yet to be a draw. If that wasn’t enough, this has been a tournament of comebacks as well with five teams coming from behind to win their respective games. As a wise Scotsman once said “football, bloody hell!”
Here are 5 things we learned from the Switzerland-Ecuador game today:
1. Set piece inquests:
Both Ecuador and Switzerland conceded soft set piece goals. Enner Valencia was completely unchallenged to score his fifth goal in successive games to give Ecuador the lead whilst Admir Mehmedi didn’t have too much to do either when he headed home Switzerland’s equalizer.
Both Ottmar Hitzfeld and Reinaldo Rueda will be asking their teams why their opponents had such an easy time heading in their respective chances.
2. Ecuador – Direct and quick:
Reinaldo Rueda’s side aren’t the most sophisticated in the world but their direct style of play with their players surging into space was still quite compelling to watch.
Jefferson Montero in particular was a livewire taking on defenders with his pace and trickery. It’s rumoured that a number of European clubs are interested in his signature and a move is likely if he keeps up his level of performance.
Ecuador’s style of play certainly leant itself to an entertaining game as it encouraged the Swiss to break quickly too when possession was turned over.
Ultimately, the style of play was their undoing as a moment’s indecision by Michael Arroyo led to a Valon Behrami inspired counter which led to the Swiss scoring a last second winner.
3. Hitzfeld earns his keep:
Ottmar Hitzfeld can give himself a pat on the back as his substitutions made a spectacular impact on the game at either end of the second half. Admir Mehdi equalized early on to bring the Swiss back into the game whilst Haris Seferović, who was only on the pitch for 15-minutes, scored the winner with virtually the last kick of the game.
Whilst the subs did the business credit has to go to Hitzfeld for his decisions especially his choice to make a change at half time. He couldn’t have predicted that bringing on Admir Mehmedi would have paid such spectacular dividends but it’s that kind of proactive management which can really change the fortunes of a struggling side.
4. Glorious chaos:
Given how direct and keen Ecuador was to get forward especially in the second half and how the Swiss were more than happy to go toe to toe with their counterparts the match was never going to be terribly tactical but it was still a lot of fun to watch. Switzerland, who probably played the more controlled football, were unlucky not to have gone in front earlier when Josep Drmić’s effort was ruled out for offside whilst they also wasted a three on one counterattacking opportunity which saw Xherdan Shaqiri hit the side netting from an acute angle.
Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio had a scary moment too as he misjudged an Ecuadorian punt up forward, rushing out to meet the ball only to see it nearly fall to Enner Valencia. If Valencia had the run of the ball Benaglio would have been in trouble. The keeper though pulled off a good save to deny Jefferson Montero as well as smartly adjusting to push away Michael Arroyo’s deflected free kick.
The end-to-end nature of the game was summed up in the last passage of the match. Antonio Valencia sprinted forward and found Arroyo who delayed his shot too long. Valon Behrami executed an excellent tackle and immediately launched a counter, which eventually saw Haris Seferović turn in Ricardo Rodriguez’s cross.
It was a cruel way to lose a game but at the same time the Ecuadorians deserve credit for trying to win the game right at the last instead of settling for the draw. Indeed after nine games the World Cup has seen 31 goals scored and one thing is for sure fans are being entertained.
5. Credit to the referee:
We’ve seen a number of referees criticized for making erroneous decisions so it’s only fair to praise them when they make good calls and in Ravshan Irmatov’s case an exceptional decision. His choice to wave play on when Valon Behrami was body checked was brave especially given the nature of the foul. A more whistle happy referee would have stopped the game to book the offending player. Irmatov’s choice to allow the advantage was gratefully accepted by Switzerland and helped contribute to another cracker of a game at this year’s World Cup.
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