On Thursday, it was time for group G to enter the WC. First up was Switzerland against Cameroon.
Switzerland is coming off a good World Cup qualifier as the nation finished first in its group and managed to hold off Italy.
Team captain Granit Xhaka is found in Switzerland. The midfielder has had a fine season at Arsenal with him into the Championship, where there have been three goals and three assists. Cameroon is fielding the Barcelona-raised, now Inter goalkeeper André Onana. The team’s big attacking star is spelled Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.
At the start of the match, Cameroon had several good scoring chances, but they missed the last one to make it really dangerous. Karl Toko Ekambi was responsible for an attack where they were given two good chances to take the lead. But after Yann Sommer released the first shot to the rebound, the rebound went just over the crossbar.
Choupo-Moting managed to run free and got a finish before defender Manuel Akanji could catch up. But the shot went straight into Sommer’s arms.
And Cameroon came close to a lead. They came up with several nice attacks but had problems in the finishing position. Switzerland also found their way and created attacks, but like Cameroon it was harmless in the end.
The last thing that happened in the first half was that centre-back Manuel Akanji had a great position in the corner. He jumped the highest but didn’t manage to steer his head correctly.
But in the second half, Switzerland made it work right from the start, at the same time as Cameroon got into positional defense errors. Switzerland were able to easily play their way through Cameroon, who became ball-watchers. The attack ended with Xherdan Shaqiri finding his way through to Breel Embolo who pushed to make it 1-0 after 48 minutes. But Embolo chose not to celebrate the goal because he was born in Cameroon.
“Embolo is breaking Cameroon’s hearts. His celebration is somewhat muted but he is boiling inside. It was just what the Swiss needed to settle their nerves,” writes Sky Sports’ Laura Hunter.
Before the match, Embolo did an interview with French L’Equipe.
– I have many friends there, the majority of my family lives there, my father still lives in Cameroon. It is a very special match, he said.
It was a completely different Cameroon that stepped out in the second half. They didn’t manage to create attacks at all like in the first half – and when 1-0 was a fact, most things fell.
“Cameroon are living something dangerous now – certainly not the side we saw in the first half. The goal has sucked most of the energy and enthusiasm out of their game,” writes Laura Hunter.
When just over 70 minutes had passed, both teams made several substitutions. For Switzerland, the goal duo Xherdan Shaqiri and Breel Embolo stepped down and were replaced by Noah Okafor and Haris Seferovic. In Cameroon, both Choupo-Moting and Ekambi stepped down to make way for Vincent Aboubakar and Georges-Kevin N’Koudou.
Switzerland aspired to increase as the match went into extra time. But there was little power left to give in Cameroon’s defense and they managed to keep away.
The match ended 1-0.
Switzerland: Sommer – Widmer, Akanji, Elvedi, Rodríguez – Freuler, Xhaka – Shaqiri, Sow, Vargas – Embolo
Cameroon: Onana – Fai, Castelletto, N’Koulou, Tolo – Zambo Anguissa, Hongla, Oum Gouet – Mbeumo, Choupo-Moting, Toko Ekambi