Switzerland vs. Ecuador: 6 Things We Learned
SALVADOR, BRAZIL—Switzerland have kicked off their World Cup with a priceless win over Ecuador. In a tight group also featuring France and Honduras, every point is precious. Thanks to a last-minute strike from Haris Seferovic, the Swiss have three on the table already.
For Ottmar Hitzfeld’s team, it’s a big step towards qualification. Ecuador, meanwhile, will rue needlessly conceding such a late strike.
Read on to discover six things we learned from the opening match of Group E.
Johan Djourou Is Still Capable of Calamity
At Arsenal, Johan Djourou gained a reputation as a defender with a worrying capacity for major mistakes. A decent spell at Hamburg had gone some way towards eradicating that reputation, but for the opener against Ecuador, his marking was almost non-existent.
Switzerland are known for having a solid defence, but Djourou’s nerves and positional naivety seemed to unsettle them.
The General’s Strategy Was Spot on
Ottmar Hitzfeld’s instinct for strategic thinking has earned him the sobriquet “The General.” Against Ecuador, he proved his credentials with some astute decisions: both Switzerland goalscorers were substitutes introduced by the experienced manager.
This tournament will be Hitzfeld’s last before retirement. However, it seems his ability to change a game remains as potent as ever.
Jefferson Montero Could Be Primed for a Return to Europe
Ecuador winger Jefferson Montero has already had a spell in Europe with Real Betis. However, the Spanish side were not suitably impressed to keep him in La Liga, and he is now plying his trade in the Mexican league.
Alan Nixon of The Mirror claims West Ham are tracking the flying winger. After this dangerous display, he’ll be courted by a string of potential suitors.
Valon Behrami Determined the Outcome of the Game
Valon Behrami’s contribution in stoppage time almost single-handedly decided the match. First, he threw his body in the way of a shot in his own penalty area to prevent Switzerland from falling behind. Then he immediately sprung to his feet and raced up the length of the pitch. Not even an attempted foul could slow his progress.
That remarkable burst began the move that brought about Switzerland’s late winner. Behrami deserves enormous credit for his bravery and quick-thinking.
Xherdan Shaqiri Must Improve
Switzerland's most gifted player failed to shine on the big stage.
He regularly made poor decisions on the ball, and his set-piece delivery was poor. It was telling that when they eventually equalised from a corner, Shaqiri had been relieved of his duties.
If Switzerland are to get past France and Honduras they will probably need more from their talisman.
Ecuador Were Naive
While Ecuador's ambition in seeking a late winner was admirable, it was also a little naive. Having over-committed, they were caught on the counter. They've now paid the price with a dropped point in their opening game.
The tournament has been typified by exciting attacking football. Ecuador fans, however, could be forgiven for wishing their team had been a little more conservative in the game's closing stages.