Canny Switzerland provide blueprint to beat Germany in knockouts

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Mon, 24 Jun 2024 - 07:12 GMT

BY

Mon, 24 Jun 2024 - 07:12 GMT

FRANKFURT, Germany, June 23 (Reuters) - Germany left it late against Switzerland to secure a point which ensured they progress to the last 16 of Euro 2024 as group winners, though their well-drilled opponents demonstrated an effective means of nullifying the host nation's talented side.
 
Switzerland sat deep from the outset to frustrate Germany's attacking players and, though Jamal Musiala showed glimpses of his ability to break the lines, the Swiss largely succeeded until substitute Niclas Fuellkrug's 92nd-minute equaliser.
 
Kai Havertz, initially leading the attack, spurned a number of half chances and defender Antonio Rudiger should have done better with a first-half header but Germany, who had a goal disallowed at 0-0, had few clear opportunities until late on.
 
Germany dominated possession, with 66% of the ball according to Opta, completed more than double the number of passes Switzerland managed and had 18 shots on goal -- though only three of those were on target.
 
The Swiss, meanwhile, were clinical: Dan Ndoye's acrobatic volley put away either side's best chance in the first half, and he nearly doubled the lead immediately afterwards, outmuscling Rudiger but shooting just wide.
 
Switzerland could have sealed top spot in Group A themselves late on as Ruben Vargas had the ball in the net in the 84th minute but had strayed offside before captain Granit Xhaka drew a full-length dive from Manuel Neuer to keep it at 1-0.
 
Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann -- who for the third time named the same starting 11 -- is a big fan of Havertz, but the fact an old-school number 9 like Fuellkrug saved the day may prompt calls for the side to have a clear focal point up front.
 
Ultimately, Germany have progressed to the knockout stages with an unbeaten record at the top of Group A. The irony, however, is that it means they may face a side better suited to replicating Switzerland's game plan.
 
Second place would likely have pitted Germany against an uncharacteristically attacking Italy side under Luciano Spalletti or Croatia, who have sought to control possession in their two group matches so far.
 
Going through as winners means they could instead face Denmark or Slovenia, both of whom will take heart from the way Switzerland were able to muzzle the likes of Musiala, Havertz and Florian Wirtz.
 
"Of course, we would have liked to win the game and to play great football," captain Ilkay Gundogan said. "But I think you also need games like that during a tournament.
 
"And that can also be a real strength for the next games, hopefully."
 
Nagelsmann will hope Gundogan's optimistic assessment of a challenging contest proves to be correct.

 

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