Bucharest: One of the most memorable nights at the ongoing Euro 2020 this season was certainly the Round of 16 clash between France and Switzerland. A night filled with thrill and surprises no one expected to unfold on the ground. The World Champions were knocked out by the Swiss in the penalty shootout.
Highlights of the match
France were leading the match with a brace from Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema and a curler from Paul Pogba until 81 minutes. The match looked pretty much done and dusted but Haris Seferovic’s second in the 81st minutes changed the course of the match. Mario Gavranovic dragged Switzerland into extra time after equalising on 90 minutes.
Kylian Mbappe had a tight angle shot slamming into the side netting as the match rolled down to the penalty shootout. With the decisive penalty of Mbappe saved by Yann Sommer, the Swiss completed their dream comeback and advanced into the next round. It was also their maiden Euro knockout win.
The Swiss team
The dreamy comeback of the Men in Red encapsulates a story rarely heard – a night that saw many heroes rise up to the challenge to cause the biggest upset of the tournament. Borrusia Monchengladbach goalie Sommer is much more well known as a food blogger outside his football and silenced the celebrated PSG star Kylian Mbappe as he took the final shot.
Since that penalty save, Sommer’s value has risen to 200 million dollars, whereas on the contrary, the entire Switzerland squad value would be barely 150 million dollars. Other than Sommer there was Gavranovic whose goal during the dying minutes kept the Swiss in the game. It looked God was smiling down on them as they trotted towards victory as a team.
“Honestly I am still in shock,” said Sommer. “We showed courage, heart, we left everything out there. “When you come back from two goals down against the world champions it is just unbelievable, and then to win on penalties, I could not be prouder of the way we did it.”
Diversity in the team
Switzerland squad is a cocktail of mixed races with players from different origins who gel together and kept out star-studded France. This team also boasts a diverse linguistic prowess as they speak most languages possible in Europe. Nico Elvedi speaks a language as rare as Rhaeto-Romanic. Gavranovic, the 31-year-old midfielder is a Bosnian Croat.
Seferovic is a Muslim Bosnian, whose parents fled the Balkans during the violence. The list just doesn’t end there. Xherdan Shaqiri is an Albanian, Denis Zakaria is a mixed-race – his father being Congolese and his mother Sudanese. Granit Xhaka is from Kosovo.
Ruben Vargas has a heritage from the Dominican Republic as his father belongs from there. Although none of this mattered as all of them marshaled together as a team and emerged victoriously.
With no history of colonialism, the cultural, racial, linguistic diversity of Switzerland is a triumph of the country’s immigration and refugee policies which is very generous. These all are people mostly refugees welcomed with an open arm in a new country where they adapted and are now going to play in the quarterfinals of the Euros.