Swiss round off disappointing campaign with comeback win against spirited Luxembourg
This was the standing in the group as of 15 November 1989:
Amazingly, Luxembourg could get to as many points as Switzerland in the 1990 World Cup qualification if they won this match-up. They would always remain behind the Swiss on goal difference, as only a win by a margin of seven or more would see them overtake this evening’s hosts, but just arriving for kick-off with such prerequisites available will have been a major boost for Luxembourg. The 1-1 draw in Belgium three weeks earlier will have given them the perfect tonic ahead of the journey to St. Gallen in the north east of Switzerland, whereas the hosts had gone down by three clear goals in Prague on the same night as Luxembourg’s ‘miracle in Brussels’. It had been an abysmal qualification for the Swiss, whose only win had come on the opening day when they had been in Luxembourg City and won by 4-1. Other than that, their only highlight had been the 2-2 home draw against possible group winners Belgium five weeks prior to today.
This was Uli Stielike’s fifth game in charge since taking over at the helm as Switzerland boss. His sole triumph had come in the 1-0 friendly win against Brazil on his debut back in June. They could need a win to sign off their futile attempt at reaching Italy ’90, not least to try and instill some confidence ahead of the next qualification campaign. On paper, Luxembourg appeared to be the perfect opponent from which to gain a timely boost, but after Switzerland had given such a disappointing account of themselves since these two countries’ encounter back in the autumn of ’88, today’s visitors could just as well prove to be a pain in the proverbial behind. Luxembourg’s new-found optimism could prove to be the Swiss’ undoing. However, no matter what the visitors had achieved in Brussels, Switzerland would be expected to deal with them. And this will have given the West German boss grounds for headache.
One of the reasons for the Swiss’ failings will have been their inability to maintain stability in team selections. A player like Alain Sutter would be available tonight, but it was for the first time in the national team jersey since Stielike’s inaugural match in charge, and he would start in only his fourth of Switzerland’s eight World Cup qualifiers. They might have been able to rely on a core of players from start to finish, but the ones around ‘keeper Brunner, libero Geiger, midfielder and captain Hermann and striker Türkyılmaz had too often been replaced from one game to another. So far, the Swiss had made use of 29 players, and no less than twelve had appeared for a single game only. With no Martin Weber tonight, one of the two central defensive positions ahead of Geiger again went to Lausanne’s Dominique Herr, who was rapidly becoming one of Stielike’s favourites. Stefan Marini would complete the back line, whereas Wettingen’s up and coming Marcel Heldmann would take the right-sided midfield role in their 3-5-2. The 22 year old had made his debut in the recent defeat in Czechoslovakia, so this was only his second cap. Also, like last time around, there was still no Stéphane Chapuisat around. The 20 year old Lausanne forward was still a regular feature at club level around this time.
Luxembourg boss Paul Philipp had been able to call on most of his trusted men for every game, and they had so far only used 20 players, with three of these appearing for one match only. For a third match running they would be without defenders Hubert Meunier and Pierre Petry, and striker Armin Krings was also absent since June’s 5-0 drubbing at home by the Belgians. The most notable player missing for this particular match, however, was Nice striker Robby Langers. He was an extremely important piece of Philipp’s jigsaw, not least because his pace and movement would always keep opposing defenders occupied. Without him, like they had been for the visit to Czechoslovakia, they were much more of a static side going forward. And they were missing his ability to close opponents down high up in the pitch. In for Langers came Union Luxembourg striker Patrick Morocutti, and the 21 year old would make his first ever start in national team colours. Other than this they were unchanged since the draw in Belgium.
Five previous meetings had all ended in victory for the Swiss, and their goal difference was 14-5. This was their first meeting on Swiss soil since 1973, when the home side had won by a single goal in qualification for the 1974 World Cup. The most recent encounter had of course happened 14 months prior to tonight, when Switzerland had won comfortably by 4-1 in the group’s opening tie. Alain Sutter had scored after 14 seconds, and Türkyılmaz had completed a brace. Beat Sutter, again not available for selection, had scored the fourth Swiss goal, whilst Robby Langers had pulled one back for the hosts late on. This had been Langers’ only goal during this qualification campaign.
The main official was a 45 year old Israelian by the name of Ovadia Ben Itzhak. It was his fifth international experience since his debut just over five years earlier, and it was his second appearance during these qualifiers as he had been in charge of the Group 3 fixture between Turkey and Iceland in October 1988.
|1 Martin Brunner||26||Grasshoppers|
|2 Stefan Marini||24||Luzern|
|3 Herbert Baumann||25||Luzern|
|4 Dominique Herr||24||Lausanne|
|5 Alain Geiger||29||St. Étienne|
|6 Marcel Koller||49′||29||Grasshoppers|
|7 Marcel Heldmann||sub 59′||22||Wettingen|
|8 Heinz Hermann (c)||31||Neuchâtel Xamax|
|9 Kubilay Türkyılmaz||22||Servette|
|10 Alain Sutter||sub h-t||21||Grasshoppers|
|11 Adrian Knup||21||Luzern|
|12 Peter Schepull||on 59′||25||Wettingen|
|13 Urs Fischer||23||St. Gallen|
|14 Christophe Bonvin||on h-t||24||Servette|
|15 Blaise Piffaretti||23||Sion|
|16 Stefan Huber||23||Lausanne|
|1 John van Rijswijck||27||Union Luxembourg|
|2 Marcel Bossi||34′||29||Jeunesse d’Esch|
|3 René Scheuer||27||Red Boys Differdange|
|4 Carlo Weis (c)||30||Avenir Beggen|
|5 Marc Birsens||23||Union Luxembourg|
|6 Jean-Paul Girres||28||Avenir Beggen|
|7 Guy Hellers||46′||25||Standard Liège|
|8 Jeff Saibene||21||Aarau|
|9 Joël Groff||21||Union Luxembourg|
|10 Patrick Morocutti||sub 64′||21||Union Luxembourg|
|11 Théo Malget||sub 83′||28||Avenir Beggen|
|12 Paul Koch||23||Red Boys Differdange|
|13 Marc Thomé||26||Jeunesse d’Esch|
|14 Gérard Jeitz||28||Union Luxembourg|
|15 Théo Scholten||on 83′||26||Jeunesse d’Esch|
|16 Jeannot Reiter||on 64′||31||Spora Luxembourg|
Both teams opted for 3-5-2 from the outset. Both teams had two marking central defenders ahead of a libero. In Birsens the visitors had a deeper central midfielder than the Swiss had in Koller, and the Swiss’ two central midfielders were more dynamic and more likely to operate in larger pockets of space than their Luxembourg counterparts, though Saibene and Hellers were undeniably the driving force of this visiting team.
Herr was marking Malget; Marini was tasked with Morocutti. Down the other end there would be Bossi to keep an eye on Türkyılmaz, while Knup was being marked by Scheuer, who had performed such a fine man-marking role on Ceulemans in their most recent outing. Luxembourg had Girres to the right in midfield, a player who always seemed more willing in the defensive aspects of the game than in going forward, whereas the energetic Groff down their left hand side would often try and lend a hand in the attacking end of the pitch. The forwards often sought into wide areas, with Malget likely to try and pull Herr out wide right. The leaner Morocutti would also try to stretch Marini from time to time, but predominantly he kept to the left side of centre. Libero Weis, also the captain, would participate when Luxembourg attempted to build from the back; he was not shy to advance.
Heldmann was good at keeping width on the right hand side for the hosts, for whom Baumann was of a more defensive nature down the other flank, although he would get into crossing positions when the Swiss had the visitors pegged back the longer the opening half went on. When the home side were in possession, Marini would not forget old right-back duties, and he would occasionally try and make a few yards of inroads from this side, though he would rarely stray too far into Heldmann’s terrain. The home side’s central midfield three all were keen to seek the ball in order to set their forwards up, and Koller was no less eager than the other two, A Sutter and Hermann, in providing an option. He would also stray forward, and was indeed the designated set-piece taker, both of free-kicks to hit into the box and of flag kicks. Admittedly, A Sutter took over responsibility of hitting right wing corners into the box. Disappointingly, the two strikers were appearing to be less prone to movement, and it seemed so that their respective markers were having the better of them in the opening 45 minutes.
Start second half:
Having seen a poor first half showing from his team, Stielike switched from 3-5-2 to 3-4-3 during the break. He also introduced Christophe Bonvin for the disappointing Alain Sutter, and the former took up the role wide to the left in the Swiss attack, with Türkyılmaz predominantly in the centre, and with Knup more towards the right of the three. Heldmann and Baumann were keeping width in the midfield four, right and left respectively, whilst what had been a central midfield three in the opening half was now a duo consisting of Hermann and Koller. Luxembourg defenders Bossi and Scheuer would continue their man marking duties on Türkyılmaz and Knup, whereas Birsens would more or less abandon his midfield anchor role in order to attend to Bonvin. It did seem an odd choice given the fact that right-sided midfielder Girres had seemed favourite for shadowing the Swiss substitute, and it probably aided the home side in gaining momentum early in the second half.
Both teams eventually make full use of their substitutes quota:
With defender Schepull on for winger Heldmann, it is Marini who is moved into the wide right position, with the second Swiss substitute slotting into a central defensive role. Both Schepull and Herr are with marking orientation, though they are also operating according to zone: Schepull to Geiger’s right, Herr to the libero’s left. So whenever the Luxembourg strikers switch sides, they will be faced with the other man-marker.
After the home side’s second goal, one often sees Türkyılmaz come rather deep to try and participate in build-up play. Thus he frees himself from the attention of the sluggish Bossi, who does not track the Swiss number 9 when Türkyılmaz decides to drop back.
Substitute Reiter starts out more or less on the right hand side of attack after replacing the mobile Morocutti. The stocky Reiter takes a while to start moving about, and thus is often challenged by Herr early on after making his entrance, as the blonde stopper is the left-sided of the Swiss man-markers. This sees Malget clash with Schepull, but towards the end of the period Malget will frequently switch positions with Reiter. Eventually, Philipp takes his goalscorer off and replaces him with Théo Scholten, who usually operates on the left hand side of midfield. This time around Scholten is seen up front in a straight swap with the confrontational Malget.
The Swiss had continued their journey around the country for this their final qualifier, taking the number of venues to four from four possible. They were in the German speaking part of the country in the north east corner, in the home of St. Gallen, the team that would go on and win the ‘apertura’ of the Swiss league, the first half of their domestic season. Weather seemed ideal for football, but the pitch was not in the best of conditions, as it appeared bumpy, especially in central areas. And with the Swiss having endured a disappointing qualification, there was a low number of spectators in the stands. As it were, only 2,500 had paid their way in, and among them were even a sizeable contingent of visitors from Luxembourg, who made sure to make themselves heard. Their recent draw in Belgium will have boosted the Luxembourg supporters enormously, and they will have been genuinely hopeful of a similar feat in Switzerland. The visitors’ striker’s duo of Malget and Morocutti gets the game under way.
On paper it looked like Stielike had constructed an attacking midfield with a good deal of vision and flair, as the youthful talent of Alain Sutter would run to the left of the trusted Koller, with skipper Hermann completing the central triumvirate. Italia1990.com has not made a secret of Hermann’s fairly average qualification campaign, but he was nevertheless the only Swiss player starting (and subsequently completing) every one of their eight fixtures. He had his counterpart in Marcel Bossi, the no-nonsense central defender in the away side, today designed with looking after the Swiss’ leading scorer so far in the qualification: Türkyilmaz had four goals to his name, so there was little doubt as to who was the leading Swiss striker at this point. The switch over from Bellinzona to fellow league strugglers Servette had not seemed to harm his career, and here he would get the opportunity to start a game with fellow young forward Knup at full international level for the first time. They had shown signs of promise during the second half of their 2-2 draw at home to Belgium, but Knup had not been selected for their 3-0 defeat in Czechoslovakia.
Paul Philipp’s recent switch to 3-5-2 had seemed to favour the playing personnel available to him, getting the most out of each and every player in the team. In the experienced Weis, they had a player well equipped to look after the libero role, as he had previously at times looked out of sorts in a central midfield position. Just ahead of him, big stoppers Bossi and Scheuer had delievered to near maximum of their potential, and particularly the latter had been in fine form during their 1-1 draw in Brussels, where he had effectively taken a player as distinguished as Jan Ceulemans out of the game. It was clear from early moments that whereas Bossi would attend to Türkyilmaz, 21 year old Knup was Scheuer’s task. Could Scheuer turn in a performance similar to the one he had given in Belgium?
The early exchanges are unspectacular. The home side are trying to make use of the ball, but new-found zest among the Lëtzebuergers makes it not so easy for the home side to exert dominance. Both sides are in identical formations, and they appear to cancel each other out in midfield, where the visitors’ star player Hellers had given a fine performance in Brussels. The same could be said for youngster Saibene, who had recently come into the picture, and here he was playing in the country where his employer Aarau were based; he was almost on home soil. He was sporting a fashionable mullet, and so was easily recognizeable in the centre of the pitch.
Switzerland had had a couple of corners, one from each wing, as well as a free-kick in a decent position to the right of the box after a Scheuer foul on Knup, but they had not been able to threaten the steady van Rijswijck in the away goal, and then the visitors go on their first purposeful attack down their left hand side nearly a quarter of an hour in, as the diminutive Groff gets into a crossing position. As his left-footer is swung into the Swiss penalty area, Baumann can only get his head to the ball and turn it straight into the path of big Malget, who has escaped the attention of his marker Herr to slam it home right-footed low to the left of Brunner, who is left with no chance to deal with the finish. The visitors are ahead! The Swiss mascot is seen burying his head in his hands, and the home supporters will fear that what has already been a dismal qualification could yet take a turn for the worse.
Stielike’s instructed his players to try and make use of their width, as both Heldmann on the right and Baumann along the left get involved. But the visitors’ two flank men, Girres on the right and Groff on the left, are aware of the danger, and they manage to minimize the threat along the Swiss flanks. This leaves a lot of responsibility as far as creativity is concerned to the home side’s central players, and from the back classy libero Geiger is never foreign to try and build. He will occasionally try to release a striker through a long pass from the back, and though both Knup and Türkyilmaz are quicker than their respective markers, they are unable to find team mates in advanced positions; the Swiss midfield appear reluctant to come high into the pitch after either forward has stretched the visitors’ defence. There are balls swung into the centre from both wide positions, but no Swiss player can get on the end of a cross, and Luxembourg can clear relatively untroubled. There are already groans of displeasure from the home fans inside the opening 15 minutes.
For the away team, 21 year old forward Morocutti was starting only his second international, and he had to try and replace the speedy Langers as best he could. It was hardly an enviable task by Luxembourgish standards, as Langers was by far their best striker, able to trouble any defence with his extraordinary pace and fine opportunism. Morocutti, though, another player with a bit of a mullet, was trying to make use of whatever strengths as a footballer he had, as he was being marked by Marini, the Swiss defender usually appearing as a right-sided full-back. Morocutti cut a somewhat untidy impression, though he was usually on the move, definitely under instructions from his energetic manager Philipp. However, it was the strong-working Malget who caught the eye among the visitors’ forwards: Earlier in the qualification he had appeared to be behind Armin Krings in the pecking order, but Malget’s performance in Brussels had exceeded anything that Krings had done before, and so there was little doubt as to whom the Luxembourg number 11 shirt now belonged. Malget was putting himself about, making life not so easy on the blonde figure of Dominique Herr in the centre of the Swiss defence, the player tasked with looking after the Beggen striker. Herr had catastrophically gone to sleep for the goal, as he had not reacted to Baumann’s awful attempt to clear Groff’s cross from the left. Malget had outwitted his marker, and he would continue to make a nuisance of himself. When called upon, he would also try and help out inside their own half, often seen doubling up along their left hand side with Groff in attempts to silence the lanky shape of Heldmann. With 20 minutes on the clock, Luxembourg were succeeding, and they were probably exceeding their own expectations ahead of the game, being a goal to the good.
Nearly 26 minutes into the half, Luxembourg string together what was arguably the best move of their entire qualification, as they come perilously close to increasing their advantage: It starts with Weis winning the ball at the heart of their defence, and in typical cool fashion he plays his way out. Weis finds Hellers inside his own half, who in turn plays it forward for Morocutti, who is inside the Swiss half. His ball back to Hellers subsequently sees the Standard Liège man find Saibene, who advances past a feeble Sutter tackle to set up Malget just outside the Swiss penalty area. As it looks like the big striker wants to have a pop at goal, he decides to release Girres on the right wing, and the away side’s number 6 gets in behind Baumann to play a cross just above floor level for the far post, to where Malget has continued his run. It takes a Herr intervention just in front of Malget’s boot to keep the Beggen striker from enhancing the visitors’ lead. It had been a move involving several players and with a lot of fine passing and movement; they were a fraction away from 2-0!
Switzerland continue to be laboured; they do not work the ball around among their team with enough pace. Luxembourg are always given time to regroup. The Swiss midfield are a disappointment so far, with Sutter perhaps the most notable non-performer. He rarely breaks out of first gear, and seems to find it difficult to cope with the fact that Birsens is never far away from him. And Saibene does a fine job whenever Hermann decides to try and shake things up by advancing down the right hand side, something which doesn’t occur too often anyway. Hellers and Koller are another tandem, though the latter is not as prominent in Swiss build-ups, and he will rather leave to Geiger to try and advance from the back. The home libero needs to make it past either Morocutti or Malget to get inside the Luxembourg half, and he will often succeed. Geiger is again turning in a decent performance, even if his passing at times lets him down. Then again, when he tries to angle a pass towards the right hand side, Heldmann does not often accept the invitation. And with Knup under strict surveillance from Scheuer, Luxembourg appear to be well in control from a defensive point of view. From more than half an hour of play, all the Swiss can muster is a few crosses into the box from wide positions, crosses which are dealt with either by the safe hands of van Rijswijck or either central defender.
On 33 minutes Sutter is able to take a Knup pass and make it inside the visitors’ penalty area to the left of centre. He manages to release a fierce strike with his left foot, but the shot goes way over van Rijswijck’s goal. However, it is the home side’s best opportunity so far, and perhaps it will give them some much needed impetus. Less than a minute later the game sees its first booking as Bossi unsportingly stops a Hermann pass forward towards Türkyilmaz with his bandaged left hand (Bossi was seen sporting this bandage throughout the qualification). And for a few moments it does appear that Switzerland are realizing the need for a bit of pace. Both Baumann and Sutter arrive for crossing positions from the left, but these are dealt with well by Luxembourg’s central defenders, where Weis’ calm presence is often the main character. Until a Sutter left wing corner finds the head of tall central defender Herr, who can only scuff his attempted header undangerously wide when he should have done better. And three minutes from the half-time break, when Switzerland have kept possession and been camped inside the Luxembourg half for almost ten minutes without creating much, Koller runs out of ideas when he attempts a left-foot shot from 20 yards high into the terrace behind van Rijswijck’s goal. It is to a chorus of boos that the home side head for the dressing room, whilst the visitors can be duly pleased with the way the match is going; their game plan has worked to perfection.
Stielike did not hesitate in making changes at half time, and why would he? Their first half performance had left a lot to be desired. He proceeded to take off the disappointing Sutter, replacing him with the more forward-thinking Christophe Bonvin, who would be making his fourth appearance of the qualification, his third as a substitute. Straight from kick-off, which was dealt with by Türkyılmaz and Koller, it was noticeable that Bonvin’s position would be a more advanced one than Sutter’s had been, and this meant that Stielike had returned to his previously favoured 3-4-3 formation, with the substitute appearing wide left of a three-pronged attacking line, with Türkyılmaz in the centre and with Knup slightly towards the right. Luxembourg were unchanged, but they would continue their man on man tactics, with Birsens now following Bonvin rather than Sutter. There did appear to be one problem about this as far as they were concerned, as Bonvin’s position was a wide left one, whereas Sutter’s had been in midfield. Bonvin would draw Birsens out of position, away from his defensive central role, something which would free more space for the home side to exploit. If this was a conscious tactical move by Stielike, it appeared to be a clever one.
A minute and 20 seconds after the restart, Luxembourg ace Hellers should have been sent off. He had received a yellow card for an off the ball incident with Koller as the Swiss were preparing a throw in on their right hand side only 25 seconds into the half, and when the referee signalled for the game to continue, Hellers would uncharacteristically scythe Swiss captain Hermann down inside the centre circle. Certainly, it was a challenge which had warranted another booking, less than a minute after his first! The Israelian referee, always with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his lips, was lenient with Hellers. Then, just over two minutes later, Koller has his name taken as he had brought Hellers down, again inside the centre circle. The challenge had been late, but did not appear to be a cynical one, and Hellers had perhaps made the most of it by going to the ground a bit theatrically. However, the Luxembourg number 7 was in need of some treatment before he could continue, but he would eventually get on with it, his presence so important in the team, especially with striker Langers being absent.
The visitors waste an opportunity when Saibene took advantage of Geiger’s header down for him outside the Swiss penalty area after an aerial challenge with Morocutti, but the Aarau man could not keep his shot down from 20 yards, and instead it is the home side who can break with pace when Geiger again decides to advance from inside his own half and play a fine pass out for Bonvin to the left of the Luxembourg defence. As the substitute makes it inside the penalty area, he releases a left foot shot which does not seem impossible for van Rijswijck to deal with, but at his near post the goalkeeper fails to keep Bonvin’s effort out, and the home team have their equalizer, much to the relief of manager Stielike and the players. Also, Birsens had been unable to keep up with Bonvin, as he was too far away from his man when the Servette player struck.
Heldmann to the right of the Swiss midfield four was having a rather bleak match so far, and usually it was his passing which let him down. He would often prove an option out by the touchline, and Hermann and Geiger would usually be the players trying to play him in. But time and again Heldmann’s passes went astray. Baumann down the opposite flank was by now a regular feature in Stielike’s line-ups, and despite his terrible involvement in the Luxembourg goal, he would redeem himself and usually do what was demanded of him: To keep width on the left hand side and put crosses into the box. Even now in the second half, with Bonvin appearing as something of a left-sided forward, Baumann would continue to operate according to first half instructions. In the centre, Hermann and Koller were now the only two Swiss players after Sutter’s exit, although one would increasingly often as the second half progressed see Türkyılmaz drop deep to try and release either a midfielder or one of his forward companions through the means of his fine left foot. But this was only after he had struck to give the home side a 2-1 advantage: Hellers had made an unfortunate tackle on Hermann inside the centre circle, releasing the ball for Knup to advance, and he took a couple of steps with the ball moving forward, finding Türkyılmaz just ahead of him. As there was no Birsens in the anchor role for the visitors, the striker could advance unopposed, and he proceeded to strike with his left boot a low shot that found its way into the back of the net from just over 20 yards, with van Rijswijck unable to move. The goalkeeper having shifted weight onto the wrong foot just as Türkyılmaz had struck. The goal came as Philipp was preparing to bring on forward Reiter as his first substitute of the afternoon, and only a couple of minutes after the home side’s introduction of defender Schepull for midfielder Heldmann. This switch had seen Marini move into the right handed midfield role, with Schepull appearing to the right of the Swiss defensive trio.
As Luxembourg boss Philipp had intended to bring his substitute on by the time the home side scored their second, he would eventually go through with the substitution a couple of minutes after the goal. The stocky figure of Jeannot “Benny” Reiter replaced Morocutti, as the latter had been unable to make much of an influence on the game after a somewhat lively start. He was full of running, was Morocutti, but very little came of it, and he had not posed much of a direct threat against Brunner in the Swiss goal. However, his frame was quite elegant; he looked much more athletic than the player Philipp brought on to replace him. Reiter, 31 years of age and winning his 49th (and, as it would turn out, last) cap, seemed to slot into a right-sided forward role, often drawing Herr’s attention. The two Swiss central defenders ahead of libero Geiger were working in zone rather than as out and out man-markers, though both Herr and now Schepull would seek direct combat with each their forward, and this would be either of the Luxembourg front two, according to which of Reiter and Malget who decided to turn out where. Whereas Reiter’s position seemed to be a right handed one early on after his introduction, he would also be seen making runs towards the opposite side of centre later on. He would, though, remain a peripheral figure for the remainder of the match.
Visiting central defender Scheuer had been hugely impressive against Belgium and Ceulemans, but he had been given a more mobile opponent this time around in Adrian Knup. The Swiss forward had not been in the game a lot before the break, as Scheuer had managed to nullify the threat, predominantly as Knup’s movement wasn’t as good as it ought to have been. However, in the second half, in a more right-sided forward role, Knup was able to move more freely and often make quick turns on the ball, something which would see him gain the upper hand on his marker. He had played a major part in Türkyılmaz’ goal, and Scheuer would have to retort to more cynical tactics by fouling his opponent (something which had even occured twice during the opening half). Yet, from resulting free-kicks that were swung into the visitors’ box, Luxembourg would usually outwit the Swiss in the air.
There were people with transistor radios spotted among the crowd, possibly tuning in to keep track of events in Group 4 (this was not far from the West German border), where West Germany were trying to overcome the resistance of the Welsh and finish a point ahead of Denmark in the battle for qualification. Obviously, the Danes were performing in Group 1, but they were struggling big time in Romania, and this saw the West Germans eyeing the opportunity to make it through as one of two second-placed teams from a group of four, joining England through to Italy ’90.
By the 75 minute mark, it seemed as if the Swiss were in total control. They did not take great risks by committing loads of men forward at the same time, but they were ahead in the scoring department, so why would they? And where Luxembourg had managed to trouble them during the first half, with Malget often being a torn in their defence’ side, Switzerland kept the visitors quiet in the second half. Malget was tiring, and Reiter was unable to impose himself on the Swiss defence. Luxembourg’s midfield also did not seem to have a great deal of creativity left in them, and by now even Hermann was beginning to appear confident, often trying to direct play from the Swiss midfield. He would still face competition from Geiger behind him or the deep-dropping Türkyılmaz, but Hermann was finally showing glimpses of his ability. He had at times looked a bit clumsy and even unfit, but after the Swiss had gained control he was exerting something akin to domination at last.
Ten minutes from full time there’s a moment when Luxembourg are on the attack, as Saibene angles a fine pass out to the right hand side for the tireless Girres to swing a cross in from almost the byline. However, there’s not much spring left in Malget’s step, particularly as he had taken a knock from a Schepull challenge a few minutes earlier, so Girres has no one to really aim for. His cross is an easy catch for the dependable Brunner anyway. A word of positivity has to go out for Luxembourg’s number 6, though, as he’s so often performed to a low standard during this qualification, italia1990.com often questioning his participation. Here in St. Gallen he had turned in one of his better performances, and he had been able to put a few crosses in from his side, despite his rather defensive nature along the right hand side. He was often engaged in combat with Baumann, and both players had a good nature about them, a smile or a handshake never far away. The game was being played at a rather pedestrian pace towards the end, and one could not help the feeling of this being something like an end of the season affair. And rightly so, as it was the final match of a qualification which had yielded little in terms of pleasure for the Swiss, an all too familiar feeling from this particular decade.
Less than eight minutes from time it is Malget who can finally rest as he is brought off to be replaced by another Théo: Scholten comes on, a player usually found to the left of the Luxembourg midfield, but with Groff already occupying that spot, Scholten would come on as a direct striker’s replacement. He will have time to be brought down from behind by Schepull inside his own half and then fire a wild right-footed shot high into the terrace behind Brunner’s goal. Yet it can’t be said he made much of a change to the visitors’ chances of getting a result, but by the time of his introduction his team mates had already run out of steam. The Swiss would see the match out, and they would even come agonisingly close to increasing their lead through another Türkyılmaz effort in injury time. He took a return pass from Bonvin following his own right wing corner, took the ball inside the penalty area past a half-hearted Saibene challenge, but his low diagonal effort went just wide of van Rijswijck’s upright. It would have been his sixth goal of the qualification, but he would have to make do with what he already had. It was the last action in an often sedate affair, and the home side had just about done enough to take the two points.
The visitors shock the home team by going in front with less than a quarter of an hour played, and in their 3-5-2 formation the home side can’t get going. They are slow, and Luxembourg’s man-marking tactics are having the desired effect. Stielike has to change things around at half time, and he does so through bringing Bonvin on and altering the formation back to 3-4-3, a familiar combination in Stielike’s tenure so far. This gives them more attacking width and also draws Luxembourg anchor man Birsens out of position time and again, as he keeps following Bonvin like he had done with the disappointing Sutter before the break. The hosts score through two left-footed efforts, and they take a deserved two points, but they are rarely impressive. Luxembourg were as dogged as they had been expected to, and they will have been slightly disappointed not to have left with a point.
1 Brunner 6.6
does not have a lot to do, can not be faulted for the goal
2 Marini 6.8
does surprisingly well as man-marker on Morocutti, who’s a taller player than him, but falls anonymous after taking over from Heldmann on the right hand side of midfield
3 Baumann 6.8
despite his bad error for the Luxembourg goal, he redeemed himself and gave an energetic display along the left hand side. Rarely troubled defensively, provided an outlet for his team mates
4 Herr 6.9
at times looks untidy, but is effective. Strong in the air, solid in the tackle, and makes an important intervention from Girres’ cross towards Malget first half. Lacks pace, but is not exposed here. At sleep for Malget’s goal
5 Geiger 7.3
takes great pleasure in advancing from the back with the ball at his feet, and assists Bonvin well for 1-1. Also contributes with some fine long passes, and is assured when called upon in defence
6 Koller 6.8
goes through a lot of work in the centre of the pitch, and has some right old tussles with Hellers. Always a reliable performer, though should still have convinced his boss that he’s not the ideal set-piece taker. Also not so impressive when challenged to be creative
7 Heldmann 6.3
very little involved, and not often fortunate when he is. Another one whose passing lets him down, and does not get to utilize his pace
(12 Schepull 6.8
strong and committed, does not give an inch after coming on, and makes sure his presence is felt on opposing players)
8 Hermann 7.1
a good performance as he grew in confidence the further the match went. Not equipped with the same level of hesitance previously seen during the qualification. Some fine passes, and not least some solid battling in the centre of the pitch
9 Türkyılmaz 7.0
such a threat when he sniffs a goal, makes good use of his fine left foot, and takes the ‘keeper slightly by surprise for his goal. Could have got a second right at the death
10 A Sutter 6.3
so much is expected of him, but he fails to deliever. He is slow on the ball, lacks in passing accuracy, and did not bring his shooting boots. Did not appreciate Birsens’ close presence
(14 Bonvin 6.9
a tad fortunate to see his shot go in for 1-1. Direct. Draws Birsens out of position and frees up space in the centre for others to exploit)
11 Knup 6.9
makes a bit of a slow start, but grows in confidence along the way, and is clearly more pleased when operating slightly more to the right after the break. Draws his marker away from the centre, and could also claim assist for Türkyilmaz’ goal
1 van Rijswijck 6.7
is his usual confident self when claiming crosses, which he does quite frequently, but should not have let Bonvin’s shot through at the near post for 1-1
2 Bossi 6.7
does relish combat, but doesn’t always get close enough to Türkyilmaz to pin the forward down
3 Scheuer 6.6
opened well, but let Knup slip with greater frequency as the game wore on, and unable to make the same fine impression as he had done against Ceulemans against a more mobile opponent. Conceded a few fouls as well
4 Weis 6.9
a calm presence at the heart of the defence, and appears stylish when on the ball. Not the greatest in size, but uses his body strength to claim victory in many a challenge nevertheless
5 Birsens 6.7
marked Sutter in the first half without too much hassle, but should have left Bonvin to Girres after the break. Supposed to be the defensive midfielder, but too often drawn out wide, and his colleagues suffered as a result
6 Girres 6.7
always committed, and showed a lot of grit when making 60 yard runs to put crosses in on a couple of occasions. A good few tussles with Baumann, and gave as good as he got
7 Hellers 6.8
very important player, but a tad grumpy on this occasion, especially as he unnecessarily shows Koller to the floor right after the break. Also unfortunate to see his tackle be picked up for Knup to assist Türkyilmaz for 2-1. Yet sprays a couple of fine passes that no one can do after him in this side
8 Saibene 6.6
unable to make his mark on the game, but still an ok performance in the centre of the pitch against difficult opposition. A couple of fine angled passes out for Girres on the right, but two woeful efforts on goal
9 Groff 6.7
very energetic throughout, and is able to somehow make it past his man and cause some stir. Not enough end product in the attacking half, but kept Heldmann anonymous
10 Morocutti 6.4
energetic, tall, but not very efficient, and is easily lead away from goal. Ought to have been more direct, though he’s still young and very much learning at international level
(16 Reiter 5.9
not a lot to shout about. Doesn’t seem match fit, and seems to have little desire to get into any positions other than out wide, so he’s no threat to Brunner’s goal)
11 Malget 6.9
appears with great desire, makes sure he’s in the thick of the action for greater parts of his time on the pitch, and connects very well first time for his goal. Is a difficult opponent to handle due to his physique, and knows how to put himself about
(15 Scholten –
comes on late on, but unable to muster much apart from a wild shot. Centre forward not his position)