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All those years of planning, and Switzerland’s journey in the European Championships is over. None of this is to say that they have played badly. Indeed, they were better team against the Czech Republic and were desperately, desperately unlucky to be knocked out tonight by a late, deflected goal in a match that they had dominated for long spells. It did look as if the Gods may be transpiring against Switzerland in some way. The storm clouds gathered over Basle this evening in a manner that reminded one of a black and white vampire film. You half expected the referee to come out dressed as Bela Lugosi.
Shortly into the match, a downpour started that rapidly assumed biblical proportions, and the pitch rapidly became unable to drain off the excess water, and things became thrillingly, brilliantly exciting. With standing water on the pitch and tackles bringing up a spray that cat on a surf board could probably ride, everything became less predictable. Switzerland adjusted to the new conditions, and it was out of them that their goal arrived, when Eren Derdioyk got away down the right hand side and got a low cross in that slowed down so perfectly in front of Hakan Yakin that he almost slipped before, thudding the ball in with his shin. It was a ridiculous goal in extraordinary conditions, but it counted all the same – the roof almost lifted off the stadium and Switzerland were off and running. At half-time Switzerland were good value for their slender lead.
It took about five minutes to become apparent that Turkey had received a better half-time team talk than Switzerland. The Turks defended more deeply, cutting out the danger posed by long balls being sent through the air in their direction. They matched the pace of the Swiss, and played a safety first game that soon saw them getting the vast majority of possession in the centre of the pitch. As they began to assume control, so the half-chances started to come, and twenty minutes into the second half, Turkey were level, a header from Semih beating the feeble flapping of Diego Benaglio in the Swiss goal. This scoreline favoured Turkey more than Switzerland, but they didn’t seem to want to go on and take any chances to win the game. The pendulum swung the other way, and Switzerland started to dominate play again. They poured forward in search of a critical goal and a great chance with nine minutes to play when Volanthen’s shot was saved by Volkan, who then got up to block Hakan Yakin’s follow-up.
In the dying seconds, the killer sucker punch. With the clock ticking over ninety minutes, Arda Turan got away on the right, and shot, which, from twenty yards out, took a horrible deflection off Valon Behrami, wrong-footing Benaglio and ending up in the top corner of the net. Turkey had the win – knocking out the host nation in the process. Turkey’s progress is hanging by a wire, even now. If they lose to the Czech Republic, they’re still out. For Switzerland, with two hearty and unlucky performances under their belt, it seems harsh that they should be knocked out with one match to spare. They deserved better this evening but, ultimately, lacked the fire power to score the goals that they needed to progress.
Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.
According to the info here – http://www.euro2008.digsvid.com/2008/06/tie-breaker-rules/ – if the Czechs and Turks draw their last game, and Portugal don’t lose to Switzerland, second place will be determined by a penalty shoot-out. Has there ever been a shoot-out in a group stage of a major tournament, I wonder?
I can’t think of a time this has happened before – probably in some obscure international youth tournament.
I do remember in 1990 In England’s Group it looked like every one would have to draw lots – as going into the last game (I’m working from memory here) everyone had drawn two and scored and conceded one – though I may be confusing it with the Euros two years later.
It was 1990 – I just checked
Netherlands and Ireland drew their last game of the group and drew lots over who finished second and third. Netherlands finished third and ended up having to play that famous match against Germany in the next round.
I remember it well, being Irish – you should have seen the celebrations when we ended up with Romania instead of West Germany…
Just to correct my first comment – the result of Portugal-Switzerland is irrelevant to this scenario.