2010 FIFA World Cup: A Preview of Switzerland's Group H Matches
The Swiss have drawn a difficult group in South Africa. Group H is headlined by second ranked Spain. Chile, currently ranked 18th, and Honduras ranked 38th, round out the group. The Swiss are ranked 24th.
Switzerland is managed by Ottmar Hitzfield. All-time Swiss leading goal scorer Alexander Frei has recovered fully from a broken arm and figures to be well rested and fit for the tournament.
Defender Christoph Spycher will miss the World Cup with a knee injury, as will forward Marco Streller; two big losses for Hitzfield.
Here is a breakdown of Switzerland's three group matches:
June 16: Switzerland vs. Spain—Moses Mabhida Stadium
The best news about the Swiss playing Spain in the first match of the group is that they get to get it over quickly. Spain is not only the heavy favorite in this game, and not only the heavy favorite in the group, but one of the heavy favorites in the World Cup itself.
Spain has no shortage in talent and will attack the Swiss throughout the game. If Switzerland will have any hope of perhaps, at best, salvaging a point, it would be through the counter-attack.
The runs by Frei and Blaise Nkufo will prove to be pivotal if the Swiss are to threaten the Spanish goal. The other weapon the Swiss have is the height of Nkufo on set pieces. At 6'3" he is a big target and can be deadly finishing.
The news that Fernando Torres is fit and ready to go for Spain does not help Switzerland's chances one bit.
June 21: Switzerland versus Chile—Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
The second toughest game the Swiss figure to get in the group stage comes in game two. Chile is a talented team that Switzerland will have to play their absolute best against to beat.
Assuming the Swiss are not able to secure any points against the highly rated Spaniards, this is a "must" game—if not to win, at least to draw. Chile figures to be their stiffest competition for finishing second in the group. They can not lose to Chile and assume Honduras could beat the Chileans.
Chile is led by Mark Gonzales (CSKA Moscow and formerly of Liverpool), a good attacking threat. Young winger Alexis Sanchez is talented and knows how to put the ball in the net. Jorge Valdiva is a good assist man. Their keeper, Claudio Bravo, is outstanding.
Chile beat the Swiss by a 3-1 score in the 1962 World Cup, the two clubs only meeting in the history of the tournament.
June 25: Switzerland vs. Honduras—Free State Stadium
A game the Swiss have to win. Hopefully they are still alive going into this game so that it still matters if they win or not.
They are going to have to get at least a draw against Chile for this game to have meaning.
If this game does matter, it could be a defining moment for this Swiss team.
Honduras, as U.S. fans can attest to, will not roll over easily. They are a team, if not deeply talented, that does play well together, and they play for 90 minutes.
Honduras, however, does come into the World Cup in poor form. They are not playing well in friendlies and are getting a lot of criticism back in Honduras. Their critics mainly cite their poor defensive play as the major concern, plus any real definition of an offensive scheme in coach Reinaldo Rueda's managing.
This should be a game the Swiss can win, but making it matter is the goal for Switzerland. Their key game will surely be the match versus Chile.
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