Who knew that the phrase Swiss emotion wasn’t an oxymoron?
Yes, that was Swiss all-time leading scorer Alexander Frei literally crying--crying!--as he left the game with a knee injury late in the first half of the Czech Republic’s 1-0 win over Switzerland. It’s a shame if Frei (who was later on crutches) might be out of the tournament, but c’mon, man, there’s no crying in soccer!
A few quick thoughts on the game:
• If you’re the Czechs you should be breathing a huge sigh of relief. The second-half goal by Vaclav Sverkos came completely against the run of play thanks to a ridiculous long-header assist from Tomas Galasek and awkward (albeit successful) finish by Sverkos (a second-half sub who did absolutely nothing otherwise). Jan Koller was virtually invisible as the lone forward in the Czech line-up--have we ever told you how much we hate lone-forward formations?--before coming off in the 56th minute. And this group of Czech midfielders won’t make anyone forget Tomas Rosicky, Pavel Nedved or Karel Poborsky.
• As crazy as it may sound, neither co-host may survive the first round. Austria brings almost nothing to the table, but I thought if the Swiss could get three points (or even one) against the Czechs they would be in good shape. Now they’re in a huge hole. I’m stunned that the home team didn’t get the call when the ball hit the upraised fist of Czech defender Tomas Ujfalusi in the box in the 80th minute. Whatever happened to the home-field advantage?
Through-balls: I know the Swiss players wanted another hand-ball penalty on Ujfalusi in the dying moments, but that one wouldn’t have been deserved. There’s a big difference between an outstretched arm (as in the first case) and an arm tucked tight against the chest … The Swiss were actually more dangerous in the second half with Hakan Yakin on in place of the injured Frei. Expect a more offensive-minded lineup for the Swiss in a must-win game against Turkey on Wednesday. I’d hope to see first-game subs Johan Vonlanthen and Eren Derdiyok as starters … You can always guarantee a raft of pre-tournament stories about players hating the new match ball. And just as often you can guarantee that those complaining players are sponsored by competitors of the match-ball maker … Good lord, how long have Switzerland’s Kobi Kuhn and the Czechs’ Karel Bruckner been coaching these teams? Time for some new blood … I thought Sepp Blatter was Swiss? Then where’s the red scarf, Sepp? … Few things are more amusing than hearing Tommy Smyth talk about yodelers and bad Euro pop music in the opening ceremony … If former players Michel Platini and Franz Beckenbauer can become heavyweight soccer politicians, how come we never see that in U.S. soccer?
Post your own thoughts in the comments section!