World Cup 2018: 3 things Switzerland did right against Serbia
The 26th fixture of FIFA World Cup 2018 turned out to be an engaging contest between Serbia and Switzerland, wherein the latter pulled off a solid 2-1 victory at the Kaliningrad Stadium on Friday (June 22).
Serbia started off strongly. Predictably, it was Aleksander Mitrovic who stepped up yet again to put his team in the driver's seat with a strong header in just the 5th minute of the game. The scoreline remained 1-0 through the first half: while the Swiss struggled to infuse rhythm into their attack, they worked their socks off in defence, so as to stop the Serbs from doubling their lead.
The narrative took a completely different turn in the second half, as the Men in White came into their own to transfigure persistence into precision upfront. Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri found the back of the net to take their team over the line, thereby giving themselves a substantial chance of making it to the knockout stage.
Here are three things Switzerland got right against Serbia:
#3 Holding their nerves after the opening goal
When Switzerland took on Serbia on the day, no team had managed to win a match after conceding the first goal in the tournament up until that point. Moreover, the Swiss had won just one of their last 18 World Cup encounters in which they were behind at any point in the game.
The stats seemed to line up against them and at one stage of the match, it seemed like they would be lucky to extract a point from the encounter.
Despite conceding the goal within the first few minutes, though, Switzerland managed to keep their wits about themselves and defended with resilience, rigidity, and readiness. Fabian Schar and Manuel Akanji combined well, as the former put in crucial tackles and the latter concentrated on aerial duels.
It was this defensive sturdiness from Petkovic's team that kept them in contention and ultimately, helped them regroup and resurge in the second half of the game.