Switzerland fully deserved to progress into the quarter-finals where they have a potential date with England.

Berlin had been the venue for Italy’s triumph at the 2006 World Cup but they never looked like pulling off a repeat as they were second-best in every department.

Threatening from the off, Murat Yakin’s side found their deserved breakthrough in the 37th minute thanks to a poised – and exquistely struck – effort from Remo Freuler. 

Upping the intensity after the half-time break, it took Ruben Vargas just 26 seconds to double the team’s lead in a lightning quick showing which left Gianluigi Donnarumma and his team-mates open-mouthed. 

Here, Joe Bernstein runs the rule over who impressed – and which players should do better – in the first of the last-16 matches.  

Switzerland became the first team to qualify for the quarter-finals with their showing vs Italy

The defending champions were subdued in the face of the Swiss onslaught on Saturday

The defending champions were subdued in the face of the Swiss onslaught on Saturday

Switzerland (3-4-2-1)

Yann Sommer – 6

Impossible to evaluate the Inter Milan goalkeeper who had virtually nothing to do. He’s just won the Serie A title with some of the Italian players but couldn’t have expected such a quiet evening with only shot on target to save.

Fabian Schar – 6.5

With Switzerland in comfortable possession for large parts, the Newcastle central defender was allowed to venture forward. He did get lucky at 2-0 when he sliced a headed clearance against his own post.

Manuel Akanji – 8

The £15million Manchester City paid is one of the great bargains. He’s given even more responsibility for his national team and showed real composure in bringing ball out of box. Always In the right place to avert danger with a headed clearance or block

Experienced goalkeeper Yann Sommer was seldom put to the test by a more muted Italy side

Experienced goalkeeper Yann Sommer was seldom put to the test by a more muted Italy side

Ricardo Rodriguez – 7

Like his ‘keeper, plays his club football in Italy with Torino. Excelled on the left of a back-three and his interception to cut out Bryan Cristante’s cross set the tone for Switzerland’s defending

Dan Ndoye – 8

Pushed up high as right wing-back, and showed pace and positivity throughout. Gave Darmian a tough time and with more composure could have set up more goals

Remo Freuler – 7.5

Scored the all-important opener by taking a great touch on his right foot before firing home with his left. That was the midfielder’s 10th international goal and Nottingham Forest fans would love to see him back at City Ground after a loan spell helping Bologna qualify for the Champions League

Freuler's poise in front of goal allowed him to unleash a close-range missile 'keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was powerless to stop

Freuler’s poise in front of goal allowed him to unleash a close-range missile ‘keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was powerless to stop

Granit Xhaka – 8

The recently-crowned Bundesliga champions was extremely influential in midfield wearing the captain’s armband. Dictated play in the middle of the park and ensured Switzerland kept their composure despite having to wait 37 minutes to break the deadlock. 

Michel Aebischer – 7

Was the creative link between defence and attack and played the final pass for Vargas to strike Switzerland’s second

Fabian Rieder – 7

Provided the team with balance by playing on the right but coming in when needed. Unlucky not to score himself when a clever free-kick was tipped onto the post by Donnarumma on the stroke of half-time.

Ruben Vargas (right) took just 26 seconds into the second-half to double his team's lead

Ruben Vargas (right) took just 26 seconds into the second-half to double his team’s lead

Breel Embolo (foreground) troubled Italy but lacked the sharpness of previous performances

Breel Embolo (foreground) troubled Italy but lacked the sharpness of previous performances

Ruben Vargas – 8.5

The only Swiss change from their creditable draw against Germany and he certainly made an impact for suspended Silvan Widmer. He had the beating of Di Lorezno on the left and had a hand in both goals. He slipped the pass into Freuler that broke the deadlock and then scored the second 27 seconds into the restart with a curler into the top corner from just insider the penalty area.

Breel Embolo – 6

His movement troubled Italy but lacked a cutting edge. A clever run to beat the offside trap saw him one-on-one with Donnarumma but he couldn’t finish the job off, shooting at a nice height for the ‘keeper. 

SUBSTITUTES

Steven Zuber (for Vargas 71) – 6

Leonidas Stergiou (for Rieder 71) – 6

Vincent Sierro (for Ndoye 77)

Kwadwo Duah (for Embolo 77)

MANAGER: Murat Yakin – 8

No superstars in his side but a well-oiled machine marshalled by captain Xhaka

Murat Yakin's side executed their game plan ruthlessly in the German capital on Saturday

Murat Yakin’s side executed their game plan ruthlessly in the German capital on Saturday

Luciano Spalletti was unable to help his team defend their title three years on from London win

Luciano Spalletti was unable to help his team defend their title three years on from London win

Italy (4-3-3) 

Gianluigi Donnarumma – 7.5

Saves best form for his country and was the only Italian who didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. Safe with handling and good saves from Embolo and Rieder, the latter onto the post

Giovanni Di Lorenzo – 5

Couldn’t handle Vargas who ran past him at will. At the other end, mistimed his run and was caught offside to spoil a clever free-kick routine

Gianluca Mancini – 6

Had a big job replacing the suspended Riccardo Calafiore. Tried manfully and blocked an Embolo shot. Wasn’t great and got booked, but not the worst Italian defender by any means

Alessandro Bastoni (left) and Giovanni di Lorenzo (right) struggled with the absence of the suspended Riccardo Calafiore

Alessandro Bastoni (left) and Giovanni di Lorenzo (right) struggled with the absence of the suspended Riccardo Calafiore

Alessandro Bastoni – 5

Looked lost without his regular partner Calafiore. Couldn’t keep the ball and was dragged out of position for the first Swiss goal, allowing Freuler time and space to shoot home.

Matteo Darmian – 5.5

Former Manchester United defender was given a tough time trying to contain Ndoye in particular. Never hid but was rightly withdrawn by Spalletti with 15 minutes left.

Nicolo Barella – 5.5

Italy’s talisman went down clutching his hamstring early on and he struggled to make an impact until being replaced midway through the second half. Until then, he was uncharacteristically careless in possession and was cautioned for chasing back and fouling Xhaka after he’d initially lost the ball.

Niccolo Fagioli (right) was at fault for Switzerland whipping second goal - taking the power out of reach for his side

Niccolo Fagioli (right) was at fault for Switzerland whipping second goal – taking the power out of reach for his side

Federico Chiesa (left) was one of Italy's strongest but he was forced to feast off scraps alone

Federico Chiesa (left) was one of Italy’s strongest but he was forced to feast off scraps alone

Niccolo Fagioli – 5

Nullified anything Spalletti had told his players at half-time by giving the ball away kicking off for the second period – and 27 seconds later Switzerland had gone up the other end and scored their second. Summed up Fagioli’s game.

Bryan Cristante – 5.5

Read More

Italy are in danger of early exit if foul-mouthed boss Luciano Spalletti can’t keep his cool

article image

Game passed him by as it did many of the Azzurri. Unable to make any kind of impact with Italy failing to find any cohesion

Federico Chiesa – 6

Looked the brightest attacking threat but was frustrated feeding off scraps. He switched sides from right to left and embarked on a mazy dribble that was eventually snuffed out by a block from Akanji

Gianluca Scamacca – 5

It’s now one goal in 20 games for Italy. Lack of mobility made it hard for Italy’s midfield to find him against an experienced Swiss back-three. Had one chance in the second half and hit the post from four yards -and even that might have been ruled out for offside.

Stephan El Shaarawy – 5.5

His first international start since November lasted only 45 minutes before he was replaced by Zaccagni. Spalletti could have taken off anyone given Italy’s awful first half but El Shaarawy couldn’t complain. Isolated on the flanks, his frustration showed as he chased back to foul Schar and got a booking.

Gianluca Scamacca (centre) now has just one goal in his 20 international games for Italy

Gianluca Scamacca (centre) now has just one goal in his 20 international games for Italy

Stephan El Shaarawy was hooked at half-time - but he could have been one of a number of changes after a poor start

Stephan El Shaarawy was hooked at half-time – but he could have been one of a number of changes after a poor start

SUBSTITUTES

Mattia Zaccagni (for El Shaarawy 45) – 5

Mateo Retegui (for Barella 64) – 5.5

Andrea Cambiasso (for Darmian 75) 5.5

Lorenzo Pellegrini (for Cristante 75) 5

Davide Frattesi (for Fagioli 86)

MANAGER: Luciano Spalletti – 6 

Dealt a very poor hand because of injuries and suspensions but didn’t show any of the tactical mastery he became recognised for at Napoli.

REFEREE: Szymon Marciniak (Poland) 6

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *