Kidding aside, Switzerland delivered the World Cup its first major upset by toppling tournament favorite Spain 1-0, and deservedly so.
The motif of South Africa 2010 was once again present on the part of the Swiss – a heavily reserved and defensive mindset. However, only the Spanish faithful can complain because the Swiss executed their game plan perfectly. They looked to get numbers behind the ball against one of the best attacking sides in the world, but also showed some offensive promise of their own with good combination play around the Spanish box before cutting in with an attempt on goal.
In the seventh scoreless first-half of the tournament, nothing of great note happened in the first 45, aside from the intrigue of Fernando Torres starting on the bench for La Furia Roja.
Enter the second half, when Gelson Fernandes netted the game’s only goal in the 52nd. Eren Derdiyok was on the receiving end of a 1-2 that cut him through to the Spanish goal. Iker Casillas came out for the ball, but was unable to corral or clear it, and after Gerard Pique scrambled to cover for the keeper, Fernandes put the deflected ball away.
Torres came on for Spain in the 61st, igniting a surge of Spanish attack. Xavi Alonso rattled the crossbar in the 70th minute with an absolute first-time bullet that would have easily found its way into the tournament’s top 10 goals when its all said and done.
Spain continued to pour on the pressure, but credit the Swiss for remaining stalwart in the back, spurred on by efforts of keeper Diego Benaglio and center-back Stephan Grichting.
Where does this leave Group H? It’d be unwise to count out Spain this early. While the Swiss played well, there was an air of luck to their goal, and few are counting out England after some misfortune, no? The worry is Chile for the Spanish. They should be able to vanquish Honduras, but the Chileans put together one of the strongest, most well-rounded performances of the tournament, despite a lone-goal margin of victory.
Even after an unexpected triumph, the Swiss will still have their work cut out for them. Again, the Chileans are very strong side, and they won’t be expected to be so defensive against a side more of their level like Honduras, which could spell trouble.
Spain realize what this game means and know what an opportunity this tournament is to claim their first World Cup. La Furia Roja will still get out of the group, if not win it by winning their next two games and claiming the top spot over Chile on goal differential.