Switzerland was unfazed by the heat, humidity or the pressure in Manaus as they easily defeated Honduras on a hat trick by Bayern Munich star, Xherdan Shaqiri. While Shaqiri will get the headlines today, the real star of the match for Switzerland was Josip Drmic who controlled the game with his ball handling and passing assisting on two of Shaqiri’s three goals. With the Swiss win, and the Ecuador draw that occurred simultaneously against France, Switzerland advanced to the Round of 16. 

Coming into the game, both teams needed France to win for them to advance; Swiss outright, Honduras by 3 goals or more.

Fabain Schar got the start on defense in replace of injured defenseman Steve von Bergen who was injured in the match vs. France and is out for the remainder of the world cup for Switzerland.

Switzerland opened up the game right away on a turnover by Wilson Palacios. I thought it was a goal by Shaqiri but a huge save by Noel Valladares kept the score at 0-0. Had Switzerland scored, it would have been the fastest goal ever scored by Switzerland in World Cup history.

The weather conditions were not ideal in the game as humidity was over 90% for the start of the match. The pitch was in even worse conditions as camera replays continually showed divots coming out of the ground and piss poor attempts by players and referees to replace them.

The Swiss struck first in the 5th minute, when this time Xherdan Shaqiri did score the goal that would have been his just moments earlier. The Bayern Munich striker crushed a left footed shot from just outside the right corner of the box, kissing it into the left hand corner of the net.  Shaqiri’s goal was tied for the 5th fastest ever goal scored by Switzerland.

Shaqiri Shaqiri silences the Hondurian heavy crowd Reuters

Swiss started piling on as Shaqiri got the brace in the 31st minute. The Swiss striker, who opened his account earlier in the match, netted his second goal with another great strike off his left foot. With Switzerland moving on to the round of 16, Shaqiri now has his confidence and rhythm on the pitch and that could be dangerous for Argentina.

Wilson Palacios must have been rusty after serving his one game suspension for a red card in the opening match. He had multiple turnovers throughout the game, including two that lead to both scoring opportunities for Switzerland.

As I wrote in my predictions article here, the first half scoring woes for Switzerland ended in this match. However, one question that I posed would be how Switzerland with their high-energy style of play would hold up in the humidity in Manaus in the second half.

As the second half started, many Swiss fans that made the trip to the Amazon could be seen scoreboard watching as Ecuador and France were locked in a scoreless tie for much of the second half. A draw in that match and a win by Switzerland, would send the Swiss on to the second stage of the tournament.

The Swiss crowd erupted when it was announced on the scoreboard that Ecuador’s Antonio Valencia was shown a red card in the simultaneous match between Ecuador and France. The call meant Ecuador would have to play the rest of the match a man down and try to score a goal to win the game; A nearly impossible feat.

Switzerland made sure there was no doubt that they would move on to the next round when Shaqiri got the hat trick in the 71st minute. Shaqiri owes his teammate Josip Drmic dinner after the match as once again Drmic set Shaqiri up perfectly for the goal. The last two goals scored by Shaqiri were all attributed to Drmic. The move he made on the Honduran defender was clearly world class; he served it on a plate for Shaqiri.

The game would finish mostly without action or consequence the rest of the way. With the win and the Ecuador vs. France draw, Switzerland is on to the Round of 16 to face Argentina on Tuesday in Sao Paolo.

Game Notes:
Xherdan Shaqiri’s goal was only the second goal ever scored in World Cup history by a player whose first name started with an “X”. Shaqiri’s hat trick was the second of the world cup (Thomas Muller) and the first hat trick by a Swiss player in over 60 years (Adrian Knup).