Spain 1-0 Switzerland
Spain kept their place at the top of UEFA Nations League Group A4 tonight after a hard fought victory over Switzerland at the Estadio Alfredo di Stefano.
But they needed a helping hand from the Swiss defence, as the visitors’ keeper hit a dreadful clearance which gifted Mikel Oyarzabal a third goal for his country.
The pre-match Spain vs Switzerland betting odds had La Roja at odds of 1.37 to win and after their early goal the result was rarely in doubt while, starting this game bottom of Group A4, Switzerland have an eye on next year’s European Championships.
But the visitors would have hoped for more. Switzerland made the last four of the inaugural Nations League, losing in the semi-final to eventual winners Portugal, but now they’re in a relegation scrap in this tournament with just one point from three games.
Arsenal midfield enforcer Granit Xhaka was given the Swiss captaincy in September and he won his 85th cap tonight. He’ll be disappointed with the result, which will affect his nation’s seeding for the World Cup qualifiers as well as opening the trapdoor to Nations League B.
But for Spain… it’s job done and they are still top dogs in Group A4.
Highlights of the game
As expected Spain started on the front foot with control of possession, but they struggled to make early inroads, and the first good chance of the game came to Switzerland. The visitors broke away at speed, and when the ball landed at the feet of the onrushing Loris Benito the wing back fired a clean shot on target but David de Gea made a smart save at his near post.
And then the Swiss shot themselves in the foot to hand Spain a gift of a goal with just 14 minutes on the clock. The visitors tried to play the ball out from the back but Yann Sommer hit a dreadful clearance which Sergio Busquets pushed back into the path of Mikel Oyarzabal who had a simple task of slotting the ball past the hapless keeper.
Switzerland head coach Vladimir Petkovic should take a look at that goal on the UEFA Nations League highlights of this game, and tell his defence to hoof the ball clear…they are not Brazil!
The Swiss keeper partly redeemed himself, on 27 minutes, when Ferran Torres met a superb cross from Jesus Navas which Sommer saved well, down to his left, to keep his team in the game.
There’s a huge amount of excitement surrounding 17 year old Barcelona sensation Ansu Fati who was named La Liga Player of the Month for September, and the Spanish forward was lively in the first half, but it wasn’t his day and he was hooked early in the second to be replaced by Adama Traore. The Wolves wide man made a quick impact with his blistering pace down the flank, giving the Swiss defence a different problem.
Sergio Ramos had a good chance with a header but directed it wide and Gerard Moreno fired one over as Spain looked for a second, while conscious that Switzerland were still right in the game. But Spain are past masters at seeing a game out and that’s exactly what they did.
Was there any real prospect of a different outcome in this game?
Spain have now won 16 and drawn four of the 21 meetings between these two teams, so if the Swiss had made it two wins that would have been a major surprise.
And there’s more…
Spain are unbeaten in Madrid with 17 wins and three draws from 20 games; and Switzerland have never won on Spanish soil.
Luis Enrique’s side is unbeaten in 15 and Switzerland is without a win in four.
It was never in doubt!
Spain lost two points in their opening SBOTOP Nations League game in a hard fought 1-1 draw with Germany before hammering Ukraine 4-0 in their second outing; and now with seven points in the bag they face Andriy Shevchenko’s depleted group again on Tuesday. Ukraine took a beating from Germany tonight but they fought hard, eventually going down 2-1.
And on Tuesday Switzerland head to the Rhine to take on Joachim Low’s Germany. They drew 1-1 with the Germans in the return game and Vladimir Petkovic’s side had more chances to win than their opponents; so they won’t write off this next opportunity.
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