Gareth Bale was poor but Breel Embolo stood out as Wales came from behind to hold Switzerland to a 1-1 draw in Baku on Saturday.
The first quarter of an hour went by without any major chance being created, with both Wales and Switzerland being rather tentative initially. The first opening came in the 15th minute, when Kieffer Moore’s effort was saved superbly by Yann Sommer. Shortly after, Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward produced a reaction save to deny Fabian Schar, whose flick from a corner was goalbound.
Thereafter, Switzerland pretty much dominated the proceedings entirely, but there was very little in way of the end product, as half-time came with the score still reading 0-0. Vladimir Petkovic & co. were more purposeful post the interval and took little time to break the deadlock, as Breel Embolo drove in a header from Xherdan Shaqiri’s corner in the 49th minute to make it 1-0.
Wales then grew into the game as the hour mark approached and were clearly ebbing away at Switzerland by the time they leveled things up through Moore, who guided his header from Joe Morrell’s cross past Sommer. A frantic end ensued but there were no further goals, as Wales and Switzerland played out a 1-1 draw. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over both sets of players.
Danny Ward: 7/10
A top-class reaction stop kept Fabian Schar at bay, but was hardly tested otherwise in the first half despite Switzerland’s dominance. Ward, though, could not have done anything to keep out Breel Embolo’s header when Wales went behind early in the second half. Made a number of crucial saves to keep the deficit to just one before Wales equalised.
Connor Roberts: 5/10
Faced a fair few hair moments up against Ricardo Rodriguez and failed to thwart Embolo for the first goal in the game. Roberts did charge forward to provide support to the forwards, but hardly provided any sort of outlet from the right flank. A game to forget, this.
Joe Rodon: 6/10
A solid presence at the heart of Wales’ defence, Rodon marshaled Haris Seferovic quite well for the most part, although there were a few nervy moments when the Switzerland striker looked to test Ward. Completed 6 clearances and made a block as well while winning a couple of duels. Precise with the ball at his feet, he lost possession just twice all game.
Chris Mepham: 5/10
There were a few nervy moments for Mepham against the nippy Breel Embolo, and he was rather fortunate to not give away a penalty when he tugged on the striker’s shirt. Continued to suffer against the Switzerland forward, but managed to win 7 duels. Will hope to be more solid next time out.
Ben Davies: 6/10
Davies was up for a battle on Saturday and struggled a fair bit against the dangerous Kevin Mbabu. However, he held his in many instances as well, completing 4 clearances and 5 interceptions. Showed a lot of desire to charge forward and make himself an outlet while also taking a couple of hopeful shots from range.
Joe Morrell: 6/10
The best of the Welsh midfielders, Morrell showed a lot of purposes and desire to support the front-men. Therefore, it was hardly surprising that he played a team-high 3 key passes and also grabbed the assist for the goal scored by Kieffer Moore. A job well done by the 24-year-old.
Joe Allen: 5/10
In charge of keeping a lid on the output of Xherdan Shaqiri, Allen failed in his primary duty, and never really managed to keep the Swiss attacker at bay. Was fairly accurate when linking up play and misplaced just three passes, but he really should have done better in the defensive phases.
Aaron Ramsey: 5/10
A game to forget for Ramsey, who showed signs of rust after not featuring regularly for Juventus in the 2020/21 season. Hardly managed to impose himself on the proceedings for large parts of the game, but did get involved when Wales grew into the game. Still, needs to do a lot more to make a difference for Wales.
Gareth Bale: 4/10
Considering just how important he is for Wales, Bale, who was our Player in Focus in the preview, produced a dreadful performance wherein he simply failed to get in the game for the most part. Managed just 1 shot all game, which failed to test the Switzerland goalkeeper. Has to do better.
Kieffer Moore: 7/10
From non-league in 2017, to a goalscorer at the EUROs…
— Goal (@goal) June 12, 2021
Produced a thumping header in the first half, only to be denied by Yann Sommer. Thereafter, the Wales striker was left isolated for much of the game before he turned up with another top-notch header, this time to find the back of the net. An inspired selection by Rob Page.
Daniel James: 7/10
By far the best player for Wales, James was showed a lot of desire to make the last impression and gave Kevin Mbabu many a nervy moment. Sent in a couple of key passes from the left flank and put in the hard yards off the ball as well, which is why it was quite surprising to see him get substituted first up for Wales.
David Brooks: N/A
On for James, Brooks was given the final 15 minutes to make an impact and he did carry a threat from the left flank, sending in a couple of dangerous-looking low crosses. Could not inspire a match winner, though.
Ethan Ampadu: N/A
A late introduction, Ampadu helped see the game out.
Yann Sommer: 6/10
Reacted brilliantly to deny Moore in the first half, but there was precious little for Sommer to do for the remainder of the game, with Switzerland being dominant for the most part. Could not have done anything to keep out a classy header by Moore.
Nico Elvedi: 7/10
A solid showing by Elvedi, who did well to keep Kieffer Moore quiet for large parts of the game, making 4 interceptions and3 tackles while winning 5 duels as well. Not to be blamed for the goal scored by the Wales striker.
Fabian Schar: 7/10
Produced a brilliant flick from a corner to test Wales, but Ward reacted superbly to deny him. At the back, Schar did well to keep the Swiss defensive line organised for large parts of the game, which meant Sommer did not have a lot to worry about.
Manuel Akanji: 7/10
Heading into the game, Akanji seemed to have a daunting task at hand to keep Gareth Bale at bay. The Switzerland defender, though, was accomplished in his display, which meant that the Wales captain was a non-factor for the most part. Won each of his ground duels while making 2 tackles, clearances and interceptions each.
Kevin Mbabu: 6/10
Engaged in an intriguing battle with Davies and got the better of the Wales left-back more often than not. Got into scoring positions as well, but could not apply the finishing touches. However, Mbabu struggled on the rare occasions when he was tested defensively, with James giving him a lot to worry about.
Granit Xhaka: 7/10
— juliø🧘🏿♂️ (@Uwagasabune) June 12, 2021
The man who pulled the strings and made everything tick for Switzerland, Xhaka’s accurate passes were a major reason why Wales struggled to win the midfield battle. Completed 92 percent of his attempted passes while putting in the hard yards defensively to keep Wales at bay.
Remo Freuler: 7/10
A powerhouse of a player in the middle of the park, Freuler was critical in keeping Aaron Ramsey at bay for a large part of the game and in turn, keep the Welsh attackers isolated. Indeed, it is when his levels dropped a little that Wales finally started to put Switzerland under the cosh before scoring the equaliser. Decent enough on the whole, though.
Ricardo Rodriguez: 6/10
One of Vladimir Petkovic’s key tactics revolved around the wing-backs, with their deliveries holding a lot of importance. This is where Rodriguez came in, whipping in a number of dangerous crosses into the Wales box to bring Haris Seferovic into play. Did not get troubled a whole lot defensively, with Switzerland in control of the proceedings.
Xherdan Shaqiri: 7/10
Shaqiri was the player through whom Switzerland’s moves flowed when played from the central areas. Also in charge of the set-pieces, he played 4 key passes but could never get an effort in front of the goal. Shaqiri, though, did manage to provide the assist for Embolo’s goal, sending in the cross for his headed strike. Taken off in the 66th minute as he started getting a little winded.
Haris Seferovic: 5/10
Seferovic saw the ball falling his way quite regularly as the first half progressed, but he fluffed his lines every single time when he really should have found the back of the net at least once. More of the same in the second half meant Seferovic’s frustrations grew before he was taken off for Mario Gavranovic.
Breel Embolo: 8/10
Breel Embolo has scored his first ever goal at a major tournament for #SUI.
His sixth goal for his country. pic.twitter.com/29EmhAMxW6
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 12, 2021
Unlike his strike partner, Embolo did not see a lot of the ball in the first half. However, he caused the Wales defenders all sorts of problems whenever he did get in on the action. Post the interval, the roles reversed and the results showed, as Embolo produced a brilliant turn and run early on, before powering a header to hand Switzerland the lead.
Denis Zakaria: 5/10
On for Shaqiri, Zakaria was the first substitution in the game, as Petkovic looked to add more steel in midfield. Oddly enough, though, Wales grew into the game after his introduction, partly due to the fact that he lost the ball cheaply a few too many times. Not the best of cameos.
Mario Gavranovic: N/A
Introduced in place of Seferovic, Gavranovic thought he had made an instant impact when he found the back of the net with a first-time finish. However, the goal was ruled out as he was offside before Embolo headed in the deft pass towards him. Tested Danny Ward a couple of times but was offside yet again in both instances.