Luxembourg - Switzerland: The Swiss open their campaign with comfortable away win
Ref.: Mr Ignace van Swieten
L 1: Wim Egbertzen
L 2: Chris van der Laar
Written by: kaltz
Luxembourg team news
Luxembourg had ended their previous qualification campaign, that for the 1988 European Championships, on a high, with a surprise 0-0 draw at home to Scotland. Not that it technically mattered an awful lot to either side, as the Scots would nevertheless be second seeds for the ’90 World Cup qualifiers despite finishing fourth in that group, whereas perennial strugglers Luxembourg were just happy with whatever they got. A share of the spoils was one more point than they would normally achieve, and they would always finish rock bottom of their qualification pools. Their previous World Cup qualification win had come ahead of the ’74 tournament, when they surprisingly beat Turkey 2-0 at home, a Turkey which would finish that group on par with Switzerland in second spot behind Italy. Indeed, Luxembourg had failed to get a single point in 19 straight World Cup qualification matches since then. So a point against the Scots will have done them a world of good.
National team manager Paul Philipp, himself a former Luxembourg cap (and captain), had been in charge since the latter part of the qualifying stage for the 1986 World Cup, so he was a familiar face to their players. And his players were a familiar sight to him, with the rather poor level of domestic football obviously not giving him a huge pool to select players from. Six of the performers who had started in their 6-0 home defeat against neighbouring Belgium, the opening match of the ’88 qualifiers, took to the field in this tie against the Swiss, another country not far away geographically from the small central European kingdom. Experienced Avenir Beggen defender Gilbert Dresch had retired from international football about a year earlier, and would be a miss. Midfielder Jean-Pierre Barboni had featured in Luxembourg’s only friendly in ’88, a 3-0 home defeat against a full-strength Italy in April, but would never be seen in a national team shirt again. Experienced forward Jeannot Reiter would sit out their first few qualifiers. Philipp could at least call on three foreign legionnaires in defender/midfielder Carlo Weis, who was plying his trade in the fourth tier of French football with Thionville, midfielder Guy Hellers of Standard Liège in the Belgian top flight, as well as striker Robby Langers of Orléans in the French second division.
Switzerland team news
Switzerland had done away with no less than six friendlies since the start of the year. They had taken part in a four team tournament in France in February, where they had defeated Austria by 2-1 to finish third behind the hosts and Morocco, and they had played European giants such as West Germany (a 1-0 away defeat in April) and England (a 1-0 home defeat in May). Jeandupeux had started to introduce new players, such as Neuchâtel Xamax goalkeeper Joël Corminbœuf, Aarau defender Thomas Tschuppert, Bellinzona striker Kubilay Türkyılmaz and Grasshoppers’ defensive midfielder Martin Andermatt, and he was looking to give them all a taste of international football ahead of the big kick-off. Spain and Yugoslavia were the Swiss’ two final friendly opponents, and after 1-1 with the former and a 2-0 home defeat to the latter, monsieur Jeandupeux would have to be content.
Jeandupeux’s line-up for this match was very similar to the one he fielded against Yugoslavia in August (a 2-0 defeat), continuing with the 4-3-3 formation. Bickel was however injured and was replaced by a late and surprising inclusion: Lucien Favre, the Servette playmaker, had not featured for the national team since 1984, so to see him in a starting line-up again will have caused some stir among Swiss sports journalists and football fans alike. He is reported to have been in great form at the start of the Swiss season, and no doubt an excellent replacement for Bickel.
The second change in the line-up was another small surprise, as Jeandupeux just recently had told Swiss media that he saw no need to rush things with Alain Sutter, and actually had been part of the committee that nominated him for the U21 squad for the 88-89 season. But here he was, in Switzerland’s XI against Luxembourg, and it meant that Bonvin would have to be content with a place on the bench. Another contended position in the team had been the striker role, where Zwicker looked the early favourite in summer, but as suggested by the recent game against Yugoslavia, this position now belonged to Türkyilmaz, with Zwicker relegated to the substitutes’ bench.
Another omission in the squad that would depart for Luxembourg was Servette defender Marco Schällibaum. Jeandupeux had been unhappy about his performance against England, and now left him out alltogether, and instead included Urs Birrer on the bench. Also, Lausanne’s midfielder Georges Bregy would not feature at all during the qualifiers for ’90, and indeed for several years altogether at international level.
|1 John van Rijswijck||26||Union Luxembourg|
|2 Hubert Meunier (c)||28||Avenir Beggen|
|3 Marcel Bossi||28||Progrès Niedercorn|
|4 Carlo Weis||29||Thionville|
|5 Pierre Petry||27||Jeunesse d’Esch|
|6 Jean-Paul Girres||sub 63′||27||Avenir Beggen|
|7 Guy Hellers||23||Standard Liège|
|8 Gérard Jeitz||27||Union Luxembourg|
|9 Théo Scholten||25||Jeunesse d’Esch|
|10 Robby Langers||28||Orléans|
|11 Armin Krings||sub 73′||25||Avenir Beggen|
|12 Paul Koch||22||Red Boys Differdange|
|13 René Scheuer||26||Red Boys Differdange|
|14 Marc Birsens||22||Union Luxembourg|
|15 Denis Scuto||on 63′||23||Jeunesse d’Esch|
|16 Patrick Morocutti||on 73′||20||Union Luxembourg|
|1 Joël Corminbœuf||24||Neuchâtel Xamax|
|2 Thomas Tschuppert||28||Aarau|
|3 Patrice Mottiez||25||Neuchâtel Xamax|
|4 Martin Weber||30||Young Boys|
|5 Alain Geiger||27||St. Étienne|
|6 Lucien Favre||30||Servette|
|7 Beat Sutter||25||Neuchâtel Xamax|
|8 Heinz Hermann (c)||30||Neuchâtel Xamax|
|9 Kubilay Türkyılmaz||21||Bellinzona|
|10 Martin Andermatt||sub 70′||26||Grasshoppers|
|11 Alain Sutter||sub 79′||20||Grasshoppers|
|12 Martin Brunner||25||Grasshoppers|
|13 Urs Birrer||27||Luzern|
|14 Robert Lei-Ravello||on 70′||28||Neuchâtel Xamax|
|15 Christophe Bonvin||on 79′||23||Servette|
|16 Hans-Peter Zwicker||28||Neuchâtel Xamax|
There is not a lot to mention about Luxembourg’s 4-4-2, other than that Weis plays as sweeper behind Bossi in the heart of their defence.
For the Swiss, Andermatt is seen in a defensive wide left midfield role, something of a rarity, with Favre and Hermann both wanting to be kings of the centre circle, from where they could find more advanced team mates, more often than not out towards the right hand side, but their passes were not only for B Sutter: Even Hermann enjoyed seeing the ball wide right, and Mottiez was a feature as an attacking full-back down this flank. Geiger hardly ventured forward from his libero role, whilst Weber was actively seeking to join in the build-up of attacks. The two Sutters were not a lot involved during the first half, something which slightly improved after the break, but only because B Sutter was given freedom to go inside and join through the middle.
Andermatt would eventually be replaced by Lei Ravello (debutant), who came on to play in a more central capacity, shifting Hermann slightly out towards the left, though not too far from the centre circle.
The teams go into the dressing rooms at half time with Switzerland 3-0 up, and they never needed to fire on all cylindres, as the hosts were desperately laxidaisical at the back, in reality gifting all three goals to the visitors.
With Servette’s crafty midfielder Lucien Favre back in the national team line-up, into the fore comes yet another left-footed player. Whatmore: Favre favours the central midfield role, exactly like the long-standing father figure of aura as far as Swiss football goes: Heinz Hermann had rounded off the 1987/88 season by winning his fifth successive ‘Player of the Year’ award in domestic football. He is the undoubted Spielmacher in the Swiss eleven. Now there’s another player quite identical to him, and this player even has the audacity to step into his range. Hermann does perhaps appear to be a tad unfit: his motion off the ball not very impressive; his movements ball at feet seem slow. In comparison, Favre’s got a spring in his step, and he overshadows his much more illustrious colleague during the opening half. There will have been questions beforehand whether Hermann and Favre could work well in tandem. The opening 45 minutes have probably left more questions than answers. Yet it might seem a luxury proposition as Switzerland are 3-0 up. That is all down to the opposition, which is frighteningly weak at times, only two players living up to international standards and its demands: forward Langers and midfielder Hellers. The rest? The less said, the better. Though back to the Swiss midfield: out wide left, in a more advanced position, though, is up and coming star Alain Sutter, the Grasshoppers flank man. He does open the scoring on 14 seconds (!), but post that? Nothing. Alain Sutter, the rising star of Swiss football has been left completely workless during the first half. And the reason? The fact that Jeandupeux felt the need to start with two left-footed central midfielders. Neither Favre nor Hermann, the latter in particular, are interested in orientating themselves or their passes out towards the left hand side of the pitch. Doing so would need both Hermann and the lighter Favre to allow themselves extra time on the ball, as they are both seen along or to the right of a central imaginary axis from one byline to the other. Their natural instincts tell them to receive the ball and look right, or, secondary, down the middle. They simply do not see Alain Sutter out on the left hand side, where his ability surely would favour him in one-on-one situations with the sluggish Meunier. What Jeandupeux’ new look Swiss side is experiencing, still despite the fact that they lead the match by three goals to nil, is that they’re imbalanced. The first half is the textbook example of why any team should try and strive for maintaining a certain level of balance. Four out of their five most forward players, centre forward Kubilay Türkyılmaz as well as the three players already mentioned, are naturally left-footers. Clearly, Daniel Jeandupeux has a task on his hand in trying to make these players work as a unit, unless he only sees this tie through a pair of experimental eyes in wanting to try out a recipe which against stiffer opposition could so easily fall short.
The Swiss might not have reached their potential, but they were still 3-0 in front by half time. Jeandupeux had opted for what was thought to be a 4-3-3, but had sprung a surprise when he chose to stick left back Tschuppert onto Langers, more or less man marking the quick Luxembourg striker. He knew that the home side would attack predominantly through their two star players, Hellers and Langers, and with the latter closely attended to, it was up to Hellers to perform wonders. He was usually allowed a lot of time as he came deep and received the ball from his defenders, often striking it long as he was looking for the runs of the Orléans forward. With Tschuppert often out of position from a left back perspective, Jeandupeux employed midfielder Andermatt to look after this territory. Not that it was duly needed, as Luxembourg’s right hand side with Girres was largely ineffective. Nevertheless, it gave the visitors more a look of 5-2-3 than 4-3-3, though Andermatt would also probe forward when the Swiss were in control of the ball. Geiger was sweeping, Weber was operating ahead of him, and Mottiez patrolled the right hand defensive flank. In central midfield, Hermann and Favre were nearly on each other’s toes, as both were looking for the ball in central positions, though at times Hermann would come towards the right hand side, like he did as he played in Beat Sutter on 21 minutes. The forward-cum-winger was hacked down inside the area by a careless Bossi, and Türkyılmaz calmly converted the resulting penalty with his trusted left foot for his first ever international goal. That meant 2-0, as Alain Sutter had got on the end of a Türkyılmaz cross from the right, pushed into his direction by goalkeeper van Rijswijck, after a mere 14 seconds of the game.
The first half was often a one-paced affair, unless the Swiss decided to break with pace. Luxembourg did not have the quality to threaten the visitors, although there was a wayward shot from Hellers after 12 minutes, and Krings would head a Jeitz cross from the left harmlessly over when in a good position. Langers, despite all his movements and running, did not muster an attempt on goal. At the other end, 3-0 succeeded Switzerland’s second goal by six minutes when Hermann went on one of his runs down the right hand side, picked up a pass from Mottiez and knocked it low into the area. All Luxembourg sweeper Weis had to do was to stop the ball at his feet, but he took his eyes off it, and it rolled under him and straight onto Beat Sutter’s right boot. The home team’s goalie could do nothing to prevent it from going in high at the near post. It truly was a sloppy bit of defending from the man who plays his football at French amateur level.
The half is played in good spirits, although there’s a nasty tackle from Alain Sutter, of all people, on Langers early doors, probably more an accident than anything done with vicious intent. It leaves the forward on the floor, although he picks himself up quickly. The same Langers will right upon half time challenge Weber from behind in what seemed like a very unnecessary tackle down by the byline. He could probably consider himself fortunate not to have been booked. Maybe Langers’ action was a result of the strong whistles of discontent from the home crowd, who moments earlier had not at all been pleased with seeing the home side pass the ball slowly among themselves at the back, before feeding it back to van Rijswijck. The Luxembourg manager, Paul Philipp, had been furious on the sidelines, and Hellers’ body language inside the centre circle also left an unmistakably upset impression. They were 3-0 down right before half time in their first qualifying match, and it appeared that they were satisfied with going into the dressing rooms without even making an attempt to pull a goal back. This was surely not what the crowd had paid to come and watch.
The first half had not been a great game of football, but it mattered not to the visitors, who would go four up within nine minutes of the restart: They string together their longest sequence of passes, there’s 18 of them with the Luxembourg players not even bothered to give proper chase, before Türkyılmaz fires low into the far corner. Up until then very little had happened, and the match had seemed to continue at laboured pace. It was a delicate move by the Swiss, and the forward of Turkish origin will have been very pleased with his first national team goal from open play. Again, after the goal, both teams seem content with just stroking the ball around between themselves, with neither offering any conviction or threat of penetration. On this display Luxembourg are as poor as any side in the European branch of the World Cup qualifiers.
Gérard Jeitz, the Luxembourg central midfielder whose shinpad-less appearance is more or less a trademark of his, sees a lot more of the ball second half, but it is difficult to say whether this is an advantage to the hosts. Jeitz’ main strength does not seem to be his ability to pick a pass; he’s the workmanlike type who will run all day, even if his physique could hint that he perhaps thrives on being static: Jeitz is a bit on the chubby side. His involvement in the engine room decreases Hellers’ level of presence, though when there’s a question of hitting a long pass, the Luxembourg defenders will still turn to the Standard Liège midfielder, for him to come deep and collect. Robby Langers is still man-marked by Tschuppert in the final 45 minutes, but he is almost without exception the target when Luxembourg try to play a ball over the top, much because Krings is very static, either not willing or able to make clever runs off the ball. On the right hand side of midfield, Philipp decides to alter things a bit when he takes off the dreary Girres and replaces him with Denis Scuto, a 23 year old history major student at the University of Luxembourg in Esch-sur-Alzette, the town where he also plays football for Jeunesse. Scuto takes over Girres’ role on the right hand side of midfield, but, alas, does not improve the home side’s fortunes. On 73 minutes, ten minutes after the introduction of Scuto, Philipp brings on his second and final substitution as young forward Morocutti replaces the stationary Krings. Morocutti looks lively, but he will soon settle into the dull, lifeless pattern of the game, and he hardly plays a significant role in the remainder of the match.
The Swiss have let Beat Sutter drift inside from his right wing role during the second half, and it was him who had had the penultimate touch for Türkyılmaz’ second and Switzerland’s fourth earlier in the half. He had not participated in play a lot during the first half, a half in which the visitors were focusing a lot of their attacking play down the middle, something which the other Sutter (no family relation) had probably suffered even more from down the left hand flank. Seeing more of the ball during the latter 45 minutes, B Sutter becomes more of a threat, even if the rest of the Swiss team are quite content with just stroking the ball around at walking pace. 20 minutes from time Jeandupeux takes off Andermatt for debutant Lei Ravello, who slots into a more central midfield role, with Hermann switching out from the centre circle and into a slightly left-orientated midfield role. By the time A Sutter leaves the field in order to be replaced by Bonvin, Luxembourg are enjoying what is their best spell of the match, with Jeitz the driving force from midfield. He will in fact set up Scholten to cross for Langers, who has managed to outwit his marker Tschuppert in order to turn the wide man’s cross home at the near post. With ten minutes to go it would never be anything other than a consolation goal, but at least it removes that look of pure gloom from Philipp’s face on the sideline. For a couple of minutes anyway. Until the game dies out never to be sparked again. The concluding few minutes are of such low tempo that the fans need to create their own entertainment in the sparsely populated stands, with about 30 or so home supporters doing their version of the Mexican wave to great personal amusement.
An away win by a convincing margin, and although Switzerland never reach dizzy heights, they are far too good for a very disappointing Luxembourg. On this showing, the home side will never get off the mark on the road to Italia ’90. The Swiss will still need to improve when they meet some of the group’s stronger sides, but at least the good start will have given them a bit of a boost ahead of their trip to Belgium a month later.
van Rijswijck 6.3
should have avoided pushing Türkyılmaz’ cross for 1-0 straight into the path of A Sutter, but was not at fault for either of the three other goals.
hardly an inspiration as a captain. Was faced with A Sutter as a direct opponent, and although the latter didn’t have his most prolific game to date, Meunier was still very mediocre in everything he did.
looks like a menace with his ‘hard guy’ image, but is ok on the ball, and his only major mistake was bringing down B Sutter for the penalty which meant 2-0.
lacks authority in order to perform as a sweeper.
looks a lot more inspired than Meunier on the opposite side, and does try to contribute even going forward.
a very, very poor showing, hardly did anything right apart from winning one tackle and once side-stepping an opponent.
unfortunately, he does not seem to be the answer to Luxembourg’s wide right problem.)
a touch of class in an otherwise very average side. Is confident and comfortable enough on the ball to advance past an opponent. Often came deep to collect and aim long for Langers.
although he tried to drive his comrades forward in the second half, it was bleeding obvious to everyone watching that he has great technical limitations to his play.
did assist Langers for the goal, but generally inefficient and often invisible.
did well to sneak ahead of his marker and notch the consolation goal, and was running all night to at least try and inspire his team mates.
tame, static and slow. Hardly what you want from one of your two strikers.
replaced the poor Krings, but did not introduce himself properly; was never in the game.)
difficult to judge. Not to blame for conceding. Other than that? Unworked.
has to move a lot in order to keep up with Langers, whom he was told to mark. Does well in general, there’s some good tussles between the pair, but he was unable to prevent Langers from pulling a goal back.
decent attacking full-back display from the trusty, reliable figure. Never really troubled by Scholten.
a solid game by the defender, who shows he is also not foreign to work with the ball at his feet.
was never given the opportunity to shine. And did not attempt to do much beyond the ordinary.
bossed midfield, sprayed passes with his precise left foot, almost scored from distance with his right!
B Sutter 7.2
a goal, an assist, and won his team a penalty. Other than that had time to voice his displeasure at playing on the wing during the first half. Often a threat, and perhaps even more so when after the break he decided to wander both into central and wide left territories.
not a bad game, but there’s always so much expectation about the Swiss ‘world star’.
finally broke his international duck, calm penalty and well-struck second. Dynamic and dangerous.
a defensive midfielder on the left hand side he did a solid job defending when he needed to, and also in supporting midfield when it was demanded from him.
(Lei Ravello –
came into centre midfield, made a couple of forward runs, and did not have to hang his head in shame following his debut.)
A Sutter 6.7
he might have scored the first goal, but other than that he was rather anonymous, offering little, though mostly overlooked by the Swiss central midfielders.
gets into a crossing position once after coming on, that’s about it.)