Switzerland stun holders Italy to reach Euro 2024 quarters

Switzerland dumped reigning champions Italy out of Euro 2024 with a stunning 2-0 victory on Saturday to reach the quarter-finals for the second time in their history.

Murat Yakin’s supremely well-drilled side outplayed flat two-time winners Italy in the Euro 2024 Last 16 clash in Berlin and will face England or Slovakia in the next round.

Ruben Vargas teed up Remo Freuler for Switzerland’s 37th minute opener before curling home superbly himself right at the start of the second half to deservedly double their lead.

A new-look Italy, short on star power and without many of the key figures that led them to Euro 2020 glory, offered little in response to Switzerland’s energetic display.

“It hurts, it really hurts,” said Italy’s captain and goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

“We can only say sorry to everyone, we were disappointing today and they deserved to win. We struggled all game long.”

Former Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka, arriving at the Euros after a stunning season with German champions Bayer Leverkusen, pulled the strings as the Swiss rarely looked like letting the lead slip away.

“I’m at a loss for words, it was the most important game of my career,” said Swiss midfielder Fabian Rieder.

“Everyone played for each other, we worked well in defence and attack… we have an incredibly great team.

“We want to enjoy the moment now but keep working hard for the next game.”

Italy coach Luciano Spalletti dropped Jorginho after his worrying group stage performances, bringing in Nicolo Fagioli in defensive midfield among a hefty six changes which failed to bring the Azzurri to life.

Spalletti said the second goal had knocked the stuffing out of his side and their limitations had been exposed.

“Right now, for too many reasons, we are unable to do anything more than this,” he said.

Spalletti had called on Italy to improve in the knock-out rounds after they scraped into the Euro 2024 Last 16 with a last-gasp equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Croatia.

However, it was Switzerland who grew in confidence and pulled off their best display yet at the Olympiastadion in a sweltering Berlin, where a far more impressive Italy won the 2006 World Cup.

Follow us on our Official WhatsApp channel

Former goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, now Italy’s delegation head, has been regaling the squad with stories from that triumph but it did not inspire a convincing performance — apart from by his modern day counterpart, Donnarumma.

The Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper, key in Italy’s Euro 2020 conquest, made a fine save to thwart Breel Embolo midway through the first half as Switzerland created the first real chance by playing him through.

Donnarumma could not stop Freuler from firing Switzerland ahead after 37 minutes when the midfielder controlled Vargas’ low cross and drilled home at the near post.

Switzerland kept the ball for well over a minute in the build-up, stringing together 33 passes before Freuler, who plays for Serie A side Bologna, applied the finishing touch.

Donnarumma produced a fine save to tip Rieder’s free-kick on to the post before the break as the Swiss sought to equal their best ever performance at the last Euros by reaching the last eight.

Hosts Germany needed a late leveller to avoid defeat against the Swiss in the group phase, while in the previous edition they knocked out much fancied France in the last 16, so Italy cannot say they were not warned.

Spalletti hooked Stephan El Shaarawy at half-time for Zaccagni, but Italy gave the ball away from the kick-off and Switzerland doubled their lead just 27 seconds into the second period.

Augsburg midfielder Vargas, who started in place of the suspended Silvan Widmer but on the left of the attack, broke into the area and arced a superb curling shot over Donnarumma.

The closest Italy came to scoring was when Swiss defender Fabian Schar misjudged a header and hit the frame of his own goal.

The near-invisible Gianluca Scamacca also hit the post from close range, but appeared to be offside.

The sides drew twice in World Cup 2022 qualification with the Azzurri failing to make the tournament but went one better in Germany, securing their first win against Italy since 1993, after 11 without victory.

Leave a Comment