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The national team conceded a second straight 0-0 in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. In Northern Ireland, their offensive animation was challenged to its limits, as Seferovic missed a penalty.
It’s a lost advantage. Switzerland did not capitalize on Sunday’s draw against Italy. On Wednesday in Northern Ireland, she again went 0-0 in an expected dominant and productive game. If the domination was dawning, the production was not there. And that suggests that the national team will still have to work hard if they intend to go to Qatar for the World Cup next year.
This trip from Belfast, in an atmosphere which was worth the reputation of the British stadiums, was nevertheless a second test for Murat Yakin. After having tested his defensive thoughts rather well to neutralize Italy on Sunday, it was time to bring out his animation with the ball. Unsurprisingly, Switzerland has been put to the test in this area. Faced with cautious Northern Ireland, the national team had to find a solution, but they had no clue. Despite the lineup of Denis Zakaria and Remo Freuler in the middle, as well as the starts of Ruben Vargas and Christian Fassnacht, the line drawn by Vladimir Petkovic had faded, and the offensive leaders were clearly lacking.
In other words, it is a poor service that Switzerland has offered. Of course, we detected some intentions: the fact of building with a base of three (Rodriguez and the two exchanges), the right lane left to Widmer alone, while Fassnacht brought a presence inside, for example. But the resources and ideas to move the game forward were lacking.
Northern Ireland were patient, waiting for the right moment to speed up an exposed Swiss defense. It came close to working after nine minutes, when Manuel Akanji chose not to intervene on an aerial ball, leaving Shayne Lavery to go alone on goal. Good returns from Elvedi and Rodriguez made it too difficult for the Northern Ireland forward to find the frame.
It was a very strong moment in this too monotonous meeting. The other was of course the missed penalty by Haris Seferovic. Yes, one more for the Swiss team and the change of fencer (after Rodriguez) did not bear fruit, as the sentence came as an improbable gift. On a cross (too long) from Zakaria, Vargas was held back by Smith. A golden opportunity, but that the Swiss number 9 has overused without glory (33rd).
It’s not yet time to make it a mountain of regrets, but a hill all the same. Because Switzerland definitely needed a helping hand to find the key. Murat Yakin did try to force his team’s fate, taking out a midfielder (Frei) to offer support to Seferovic (along with Zuber), but the national team didn’t have a player or system problem, but rather animation. That says a lot of the work Yakin still has to do with his roster, who have been used to never giving up points against small teams. Obviously, the comparison with Petkovic is significant on nights like this.
Northern Ireland: Peacock; Ballard, Cathcart, Brown; Smith (68th Bradley), McCann, Davis, Thompson (74th Saville), Lewis; Washington (68th Charles), Lavery (86th Jones). Coach: Ian Baraclough.
Switzerland: Sommer; Widmer (86th Lotomba), Elvedi, Akanji, Rodriguez; Frei (59th Steffen); Fassnacht (59th Zuber), Freuler, Zakaria (86th Aebischer), Vargas; Seferovic (77th Zeqiri). Coach: Murat Yakin.
Notes: Switzerland without Xhaka (Covid-19), Benito, Embolo, Gavranovic and Shaqiri (injured or convalescing). Seferovic’s 33rd penalty stopped by Peacock.
A team of snails, a pace of senator, no punch, the Irish are weak but rush for the balloons, the Swiss them walk on the bag …
Murat Yakin’s men must put in the same energy tonight as against Italy last Sunday. The Nati must return home with three points to consolidate their second place in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
With a brilliant entry against Italy on Sunday, the Genevan returned to his best level after his injury in March 2020. In Northern Ireland on Wednesday, he will be a choice option for Murat Yakin.
The Basel goalkeeper intercepted a penalty from Jorginho and kept the national team 0-0 against the Italian European champion on Sunday.