Switzerland began their World Cup preparations on a positive note as they saw off Greece in a 1-0 win at the Olympic Stadium on Friday.
The first half was a largely scrappy affair, with chances coming few and far between. Breel Embolo had the most meaningful opportunity of the night coming his way, but he could only strike the upright. On the opposite end of the pitch, Kostas Mitroglou fluffed his lines from close range.
The deadlock was finally broken 14 minutes into the second half as Blerim Dzemaili hit the back of the net with an acrobatic effort after being found unmarked by Haris Seferovic’s cross. The hosts had just one opportunity on the other end, but Konstantinos Fortounis could only fire over the crossbar.
— FIFA World Cup 🏆 (@FIFAWorldCup) March 23, 2018
The match presented Michael Kibbe with some genuine concerns heading into the final months of their World Cup preparation, while there were quite a few positives for Vladimir Petkovic & co. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over the two sides.
Orestis Karnezis: 6/10
Couldn’t have done much to save Dzemaili’s acrobatic effort. Made one good save, but didn’t have much to do apart from that, with most of Switzerland’s shots either going wide or over.
Vasilis Torosidis: 5/10
The Greece captain offered nothing going forward and also allowed several to come in from his flank. Had his hands full with Dzemaili and Ricardo Rodriguez and came off the worse.
Kostas Manolas: 6/10
The AS Roma man allowed very little past him for much of the game. But, Manolas was caught out of position when Switzerland scored their goal, perhaps the only disappointing aspect of his outing.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos: 5/10
A performance to forget for the experienced defender. An early error allowed Breel Embolo a shot on goal and he, too, was nowhere to be seen when Dzemaili found the back of the net.
Panagiotis Retsos: 5.5/10
Much like Torosidis on the opposite flank, Retsos wasn’t much of a factor in the final third, and allowed Stephan Lichsteiner ample space to deliver several crosses.
Andreas Samaris: 5.5/10
Samaris’ job was to contain Granit Xhaka, but he failed on that account as the Arsenal man ran the show in midfield.
Had a personal battle with Remo Freuler, where he did his job diligently. Decent in his forward forays as he linked up smartly at times, especially with Konstantinos Fortounis, but Greece needed him to be more creative.
Anastasios Bakasetas: 5/10
Anonymous for the most part, creating very little for Mitroglou, which made it all the more inexplicable why he remained on the pitch throughout the game.
Konstantinos Fortounis: 6/10
The biggest outlet for Greece in the game, Fortounis often found himself in pockets of space. But, his finishing let him down as he failed to convert any of the three big chances coming his way.
Anastasios Donis: 6/10
Often used his pace to good effect, especially in the first half when he created an opening for Mitroglou. But, like Bakasetas, he wasn’t creative enough for Greece to trouble Switzerland much.
Kostas Mitroglou: 5.5/10
A night to forget for Mitroglou, whose profligacy would come back to haunt Greece. Had one shot blocked off, but the other was the biggest chance for his side as he failed to convert from close range.
Yann Sommer: 7/10
Greece seldom troubled him on the night. But, it was also largely down to Sommer being proactive and coming off his lines quickly to absorb the pressure. A late punched clearance meant Switzerland kept their lead intact.
Stephan Lichtsteiner: 6.5/10
The Swiss captain was in his elements, providing several inviting crosses into the Greek box, albeit without anyone coming on its end. Did leave space behind him at times, but defended diligently for the most part.
Fabian Schar: 7/10
Defended smartly for much of the game, rendering Kostas Mitroglou ineffective. Used his reading of the game to good effect to keep the Greek attack quiet.
Manuel Akanji: 6/10
Like Schar, Akanji was solid for the most part. But, he was caught out of position once or twice, which gave Greece a rare chance at Sommer’s goal.
Ricardo Rodriguez: 6/10
Defensively sound for the most part, with Bakasetas threatening very little. On the other end of the pitch, Rodriguez provided width, while also sending in a few dangerous crosses. Things to improve upon.
Valon Behrami: 6/10
Behrami blew hot and cold throughout the match, often letting chances past him through the middle while absorbing the pressure well at times. Needs to pull his socks up.
Breel Embolo: 5.5/10
Embolo has enjoyed better days in the Switzerland shirt. The youngster failed to convert the one big opportunity that came his way, striking the upright. Conceded possession sloppily at times, giving away Greece’s first chance.
Remo Freuler: 6.5/10
Was a constant threat with his deceptive movement off the ball, when he used his understanding with Xhaka to good effect. Also kept Zeca quiet for large parts.
Granit Xhaka: 7/10
The creative powerhouse for Switzerland, Xhaka ran the show from midfield, opening up play superbly with accurate long balls. The talisman in Vladimir Petkovic’s side.
Blerim Dzemaili: 7/10
Former #IMFC midfielder Blerim Džemaili scored the only goal in today’s friendly as #Switzerland won 1-0 vs #Greece. Plenty of time and space in the box, but still a very nice overhead kick! #GRESUI #MLS 🇨🇭👌 pic.twitter.com/fZRWRkiiE4
— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) March 23, 2018
A constant threat from the left flank with his pacy movement and searching balls into the box. Drifted inwards to good effect, with one such run ending in Switzerland’s only goal.
Haris Seferovic: 7/10
Linked up well with Dzemaili all through the night, which helped open up spaces for him and his teammates. Provided the assist for his side’s goal – a pinpoint cross that found Dzemaili unmarked.