Switzerland falls again to first World Cup knockout punch

Dec 6, 2022, 12:01 PM | Updated: Dec 7, 2022, 2:06 am

Switzerland's midfielder Granit Xhaka, right, and Switzerland's midfielder Denis Zakaria, left, rea...

Switzerland's midfielder Granit Xhaka, right, and Switzerland's midfielder Denis Zakaria, left, react after the elimination during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Portugal and Switzerland at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)

(Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Switzerland exited the World Cup at the round of 16 stage, just as it usually does in the modern era.

A 6-1 rout by Portugal on Tuesday left little space for feeling that progress was made, even if the squad was hit by a bout of sickness in Qatar.

Switzerland’s quest to win a first World Cup knockout game since 1954 will have to wait.


There are nations of similar soccer history and a bigger population who would be happy to trade places with Switzerland in the European pecking order.

Still, this streak of round of 16 losses starting at the 2014 World Cup gets a little harder each time for fans to accept.

Under different coaches, there was a tough 1-0 extra-time loss to Argentina eight years ago, a strangely tame 1-0 loss to Sweden last time, now a humiliation against a Portugal team made more dynamic by leaving Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench.

Swiss fans were fueled with hope after eliminating world champion France in the round of 16 at the European Championship last year.

This was a squad that knew how to navigate its path through a tournament — and the group stage in Qatar offered more evidence.

Switzerland advanced from the group stage with an efficient 1-0 win over Cameroon, a late 1-0 loss to a standout Brazil team, and a decisive 3-2 win over Serbia in a game loaded with emotional and physical stress.

On Tuesday, the Swiss did not come close to maintaining their level, not helped by a bout of colds in the camp.

Then there were the tactics of coach Murat Yakin: Switching a defensive line of four to three in the back, which was clinically exploited by Portugal’s free-flowing playmakers.

“These were his choices, we have to accept them,” said playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri, whose anguished facial expressions were clear when the game was slipping away before half time at Lusail Stadium.


None of this squad need head for international retirement.

The core trio of goalkeeper Yann Sommer, midfielder and captain Granit Xhaka and playmaker Shaqiri are in their early 30s and have much to offer as team leaders.

Coach Yakin has been in the job for just 16 months and has a contract through Euro 2024.

A former center back for the national team, his instincts tend toward caution. Certainly more than his predecessor Vladimir Petkovic who oversaw that cavalier win over France last year, on penalties after a 3-3 draw.

However, Yakin’s tactical choice for his biggest test is being second-guessed at home.


A veteran of five major tournaments aged just 25, forward Breel Embolo emerged as a stronger force leading the attack. He scored two key goals and did not shirk a physical duel with Rúben Dias that the Portugal defender pushed to the limit of the rules.

Noah Okafor was used as an impact substitute in Qatar and the speedy Salzburg forward will surely improve for Euro 2024 when he will be 24.

Aged between 25 and 27 and each approaching 50 appearances, center defenders Manuel Akanji and Nico Elvedi, plus midfielder Denis Zakaria and Djibril Sow should all be entering prime years.


The Swiss are the clear class act in a Euro 2024 qualifying group with Israel, Romania, Kosovo, Belarus, Andorra. The top two in the standings next November advance direct to the tournament in Germany.

With 16 qualifiers from Europe instead of 13 at the expanded 2026 World Cup in North America, Switzerland should have a good chance of securing a spot to that tournament.


AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Switzerland falls again to first World Cup knockout punch