Switzerland vs Czech
Republic in Basle.
Saturday, 7th June at 18.00
Finally, the Euro 2008 tournament gets underway in
Basle; after the opening ceremony, complete with model cows and milk-maids on stilts.
The cool, damp conditions make it possible for the players to run
around more, without needing to stop so often to take on fluids. Not so great for the fans
There was certainly plenty of running, in the first half an hour, but
no real goal-attempts to show for it.
The first real moment occurred in the 35th minute, when Alex Frei had
time in the middle to cue up a long-shot. The flight of the ball appeared to worry Petr
Cech, as the Chelsea goalkeeper took no chances and was just happy to slap the ball away;
with both palms held closely together.
Seven minutes later, the Swiss captain took a bad knock that brought
another worrying look to the face of Köbi Kuhn and a stretcher onto the pitch. Alexander
Frei received applause from the fans, as he waved the stretcher away and limped off the
The brave face didn't last long, once Alexander Frei realised that his
game was over (and probably Switzerland's hope of achieving anything) and burst into
Half-time - 0:0
Hakan Yakin came on for Alexander Frei after half-time and soon
brought a cheer from the crowd, when he earned a free-kick just outside the penalty area
and produced a high, curling effort that caused an even louder gasp from the home
supporters. Petr Cech had it covered though.
Hakan Yakin later motioned to the Swiss fans to get behind the team
more. They certainly needed something.
On the 65th minute, the whole Swiss bench rose to their feet in
spontaneous reaction to Hakan Yakin's 'free header'; a header that surely should have
slipped in between Petr Cech and the post, rather than the other side of it.
Then Václav Sverko, on for Jan Koller, injected life into the
docile Czech fans when he beat the Swiss defensive line - who were pushing up after a
clearance - as the ball was heading back into the box, and clipped the ball past Diego
Benaglio; caught clumsily diving the wrong way.
There was goalmouth panic at the other end, ten minutes from time, as
Petr Cech could only parry a shot from Barnetta and then watch helplessly as Johan
Vonlanthen's follow-up slammed against the woodwork.
Despite the last-minute flurry from the hosts (and two soft penalty
claims turned down), Czech Republic held out for the first three points of the tournament.
Köbi Kuhn could do little more than smile wryly and shrug his head
from side-to-side. It just wasn't to be.
Switzerland probably didn't deserve to lose; but if you can't take
your chances, you don't deserve to win either.
Switzeland 0 - Czech Republic 1
0:1 Václav Sverko (71)
1 Diego Benaglio; 20 Patrick Müller, 3 Ludovic Magnin, 4 Philippe Senderos, 5 Stephan
Lichtsteiner; 16 Tranquillo Barnetta, 19 Valon Behrami, 15 Fernandes Gelson, 8 Gokhan
Inler; 9 Alexander Frei, 11 Marco Streller.
1 Petr Cech; 6 Marek Jankulovski, 21 Tomas Ujfalusi, 22 David Rozehnal, 2 Zdenek Grygera;
14 David Jarolim, 7 Libor Sionko, 4 Tomas Galasek, 20 Jaroslav Plasil, 3 Jan Polak; 9 Jan
Roberto Rosetti (Italy)
46 Mins (Switzerland) - 10 Hakan Yakin on for 9 Alexander Frei
56 Mins (Czech Republic) - 10 Václav Sverko on for 9 Jan Koller
75 Mins (Switzerland) - 22 Johan Vonlanthen on for 5 Stephan Lichtsteiner
83 Mins (Czech Republic) - 11 Stanislav Vlcek on for 7 Libor Sionko
83 Mins (Switzerland) - 12 Eren Derdiyok on for 19 Valon Behrami
87 Mins (Czech Republic) - 5 Radoslav Kovác on for 14 David Jarolim
3 Yellow Cards:
59 Mins - Jan Pola (Czech Republic)
76 Mins - Johan Vonlanthen (Switzerland)
92 Mins - Tranquillo Barnetta (Switzerland)
Portugal vs Turkey