Switzerland – Qualification for Italia ’90

< UEFA Group 7


No major tournament in sight yet for the Swiss, who had been 4th ranked before the draw for the 1990 World Cup qualification. They had been involved in four World Cups in the 50s and 60s, but hadn’t qualified for a World Cup since the one in 1966, and usually had not even been close to getting there. Could they fare better in qualification Group 7 for the 1990 World Cup? They could have an idea of their standing from the 1988 Euro qualifiers, when they had finished 4th in their group, behind a reduced Portugal: as Portugal now looked to be reinvigorated, it was only likely that the gap between the two teams would increase. 1st and 3rd seeded Belgium and Czechoslovakia were also both expected to be superior sides, and few would put their money on the Swiss, despite there being two automatic berths in this group.

The Swiss national team had not featured in the World Cup since the ’66 tournament in England, where they for the second successive tournament had exited at the group stage after three straight defeats. Surely, as their domestic league had been gaining in reputation over the last few seasons, due to an upturn in finances among some of the country’s bigger clubs, their prospects were now better. The improved money situation had lead to some fine international names, with West German legendary forward Karl-Heinz Rummenigge being one example, arriving for a late career payday in Swiss football, but more importantly: It had meant that the leading clubs were able to hold on to their better players. Swiss internationals did not need to go abroad in order to earn a decent wage.

Manager Daniel Jeandupeux, a 39 year old former cap, like Philipp, had done well in charge of Toulouse in the French league, and had been appointed manager for the national team prior to the qualification tournament for West Germany ’88. They had failed to impress, winning only one out of eight matches, a 4-1 success at home to lowly Malta. Jeandupeux would probably feel a bit of pressure heading into the tie in Luxembourg City, with the Swiss fans expecting that they begin the ‘road to Italia’ with a win. Gone or phased out since the new boss had taken over the reins from predecessor Paul Wolfisberg were big players such as veteran defenders André Egli, Heinz Lüdi, and Charles In-Albon, as well as forwards Jean-Paul Brigger, prolific at domestic level, not so much on the international stage, and Claudio Sulser.

The positive omen for the Swiss, was that they had proved in the 1988 qualifiers to be a team that was difficult to beat, having lost only twice. Unfortunately for the Swiss, however, only one of the remaining games ended with a win. Did they now have the players who could find deciders in even matches and fire Switzerland to Italia’90? They did have a couple of players that had won international recognition, first and foremost libero Alain Geiger (St. Etienne) and Heinz Hermann (Neuchâtel Xamax). The latter was the closest to a Swiss world star, if there ever was one. But to find the goals? A young striker named Kubilay Türkyilmaz (Bellinzona) had recently had his breakthrough, and they would hope for him to grab the essential goals.


Daniel Jeandupeux had a rich federation to back his campaign, and was able to arrange a set of friendlies against quality opposition before the first qualifiers ahead of Italia’90.

27.04.1988, Fritz Walter Stadion (Kaiserslautern)
West Germany 1-0 Switzerland
Line-up (4-4-2): Corminboeuf – Tschuppert, Weber, Andermatt, Maissen – Perret, Hermann (c), Bickel – B Sutter, Zwicker (Türkyılmaz 69), Bonvin
A good performance by the Swiss, defeated by a solitary goal. In the audience that night, Masopust (former national coach of Czechoslovakia) claimed that Switzerland would give the three top seeded teams fierce competition for a place in Italia’90, and Heinz Hermann was compared by local Kaiserslautern newspaper Die Rheinpfalz with Günther Netzer. Promising! Also debuts for Corminboeuf and Tschuppert.

28.05.1988, Stade Olympique de la Pontaise (Lausanne)
Switzerland 0-1 England
Line-up (4-3-3): Corminboeuf – Tschuppert, Schällibaum, Geiger, Weber – Perret (Andermatt h-t), Hermann (c), Bickel (Mottiez 82) – B Sutter, Zwicker, Bonvin (Türkyılmaz 67)
Res.: Brunner, Maisen, Wyss and Zuffi.

05.06.1988, St. Jakob Stadion (Basel)
Switzerland 1-1 Spain
Goal: B Sutter
Line-up (4-3-3): Corminboeuf – Tschuppert, Schällibaum, Weber, Geiger – Andermatt, Hermann (c), Wyss – B Sutter, Zwicker (Zuffi 58), Türkyılmaz
Res.: Milani, Piffaretti, Perret, Bickel, Mottiez.
Finally a result for the Swiss after many defeats, albeit against top quality opposition. Brunner had withdrawn from the squad and Maisen retired from int. football since last week – they were replaced by Milani and Piffaretti.

24.08.1988, Stadion Allmend (Lucerne)
Switzerland 0-2 Yugoslavia
Line-up (4-3-3): Corminbœuf – Tschuppert, Weber, Geiger, Mottiez – Andermatt (Zuffi 80), Hermann (c), Bickel (Schällibaum 73) – B Sutter, Türkyılmaz, Bonvin (Zwicker h-t)
Res.: Brunner, Piffaretti.
Noteworthy that 21 year old forward Türkyılmaz  here was used in the striker role – Jeandupeux was explicit about his uncertainty on Zwicker, and seems to have had a lot of belief in the Bellinzona forward already. Jeandupeux also had hesitations about Schällibaum after his last performance and instead tried Mottiez as a left back. Left winger this time was Bonvin, and Jeandupeux told media there was no need to rush things with Alain Sutter.

Squad report
Switzerland’s team selection autumn 1988

Qualifier 1
21.09.1988, Stade Municipal (Luxembourg)
Luxembourg 1-4 Switzerland
Goals: Türkyılmaz 2 (1 pen.), A Sutter, B Sutter.
Line-up (4-3-3): Corminbœuf – Tschuppert, Weber, Geiger, Mottiez – Favre, Hermann (c), Andermatt (Lei Ravello 70) – B Sutter, Türkyılmaz, A Sutter (Bonvin 79)
Res: Brunner, Birrer, Zwicker.
The Swiss make it look easy in Luxembourg. Lucien Favre made his comeback in the national team midfield after more than four years out! The match was also defender Thomas Tschuppert’s final ever international. He had been brought in to do a job on Luxembourg’s quick forward Robby Langers. Switzerland were three up at half time, scored another early in the second half, and let the hosts pull a goal back within the final ten minutes.

Qualifier 2
19.10.1988. Belgium 1-0 Switzerland
Line-up (4-3-3): Corminbœuf – Mottiez, Weber, Geiger, Schällibaum – Favre, Hermann (c), Andermatt (Bonvin 76) – B Sutter, Türkyılmaz, Zuffi
The first half is probably as bad as it gets, with Switzerland being swept past by Belgium and lucky to escape with only 1-0. Poor tactics is to blame, with pressing in total shambles. And this was not the venue to play an ambitious 4-3-3. Things improve after the break as Belgium take the foot off the pedal, and Favre and Hermann suddenly have a lot more time on the ball. Türkyılmaz even came close to grabbing a leveller at the end, but it is a well deserved win for the home team.

Above: Switzerland entering Heysel Stadion.


14.12.1988 Egypt 1-3 Switzerland
Goals: Zuffi 2, Hermann.
Line-up (4-4-2): Brunner – Marini, Wehrli, Weber, Birrer – Piffaretti (A Sutter 50), Koller, Hermann (c), Favre – Zuffi, Brigger
An impressive win against a plucky Egypt side, and Jeandupeux told media he was particularly happy with the team cohesion. Well-known figures Wehrli and Koller were back in the national team frame after long absences. The match saw the debut of full-back Birrer, who is reported to have had a decent game. Man of the match was Marini, who ran the Egyptian left side ragged. Geiger (club), B. Sutter, Bickel (both inj.) and Türkyilmaz (marriage) had all withdrawn from the squad. Unused subs were Corminboeuf, Tschuppert, Colombo and Knup. The formation was a 4-4-2, signalling a potential change in Jeandupeux’s tactics.

04.04.1989: Hungary 3-0 Switzerland
Line-up (4-4-2): Brunner – Marini, Birrer, Weber, Wehrli – Favre (A Sutter 66), Koller (B Sutter 59), Hermann (c), Colombo – Türkyılmaz, Zuffi.
Jeandupeux gave debut to 20 year young Lugano midfielder Colombo, as the home side scored twice in the first half. This was a poor rehearsal ahead of the difficult trip to Portugal, where most of these players would be expected to feature.

Qualifier 3
26.04.1989. Portugal 3-1 Switzerland
Goal: Zuffi
Line-up (4-3-3): Brunner – Mottiez, Weber, Koller, Birrer (Ryf 73) – Marini, Favre, Hermann (c) – B Sutter, Zuffi, A Sutter (Türkyılmaz 56)
Switzerland manage to stifle the home side during a dull first half, but suffer from conceding three times after the break. There was no Geiger at the heart of the defence, and midfielder Marini had been instructed to keep a close watch on Rui Barros. Due to a lot of left-footed players in the starting eleven, the Swiss seemed to be lacking in balance.

Team news
Manager Jeandupeux was sacked from his position after the defeat in Portugal. The Swiss federation found his replacement in Uli Stielike, the West German libero and midfielder who had ended his playing career in Switzerland with Neuchâtel Xamax. No doubt an exciting choice, but Stielike had no experience as a manager.

Qualifier 4
07.06.1989: Switzerland 0-1 Czechoslovakia
(3-5-2): Brunner – Schepull, Weber, Koller – Marini, Hermann (c), Geiger, R Sutter (Türkyılmaz 58), A Sutter – Halter, B Sutter (Zuffi 72)
Former Swiss manager Paul Wolfisberg acted as caretaker for this match, with Stielike sitting beside him on the bench. They saw a home side able to hold on the ball, much thanks to a dynamic midfield composition with Geiger in a lead role, but almost unable to create any goal chances. It was probably a mistake to field both Halter and B. Sutter on top, leaving Türkyılmaz as a substitute.

21.06.1989 Switzerland 1-0 Brazil
Goal: Türkyılmaz (pen.)
Switzerland (3-4-3): Brunner (Lehmann h-t) – Weber, Koller, Schepull – Marini, A Sutter (R Sutter 56), Geiger (c), Baumann – B Sutter (Burri 84), Türkyılmaz (Zuffi 74), Chapuisat (Piffaretti 62)
Uli Stielike secured a big scalp in his first match as Switzerland boss. The home side were very fortunate, as the visitors, who fielded a decent side with players like Ricardo Gomes, Dunga, Alemão and Valdo, missed some gilt-edged opportunities, as well as having a perfectly good goal (Gerson) ruled out for offside. And the penalty from which Türkyılmaz scored the only goal of the game five minutes into the second half was a big mistake by the Dutch referee. Well worth noting that the Swiss were without regular captain Hermann and another strong midfielder in Favre, and four players won their debuts on the night.

Qualifier 5
20.09.1989 Switzerland 1-2 Portugal
Goal: Türkyılmaz (pen.)
Switzerland (4-3-3): Brunner – Rey, Weber, Geiger, Baumann – Piffaretti, Hermann (c), Favre (Herr 78) – B Sutter (Zuffi 69), Türkyılmaz, Chapuisat
With defeat went Switzerland’s last chance to qualify for the World Cup. Even a win would only have left a vague hope, but they appeared to be on their way to a good result when taking the lead through a highly debatable Türkyılmaz penalty in the first half. The visitors made some tactical changes and came good in the second half, with left-sided forward Futre in particular being a thorn in the Swiss’ side. Debutant Rey at full-back was exposed. Piffaretti had a decent game in midfield. Chapuisat did well in his second international appearance out wide left. Stielike’s first qualifying match.

Qualifier 6
11.10.1989 Switzerland 2-2 Belgium
Goals: Knup, Türkyılmaz
Switzerland (3-4-3): Brunner – Herr, Geiger, Baumann – Piffaretti, Hermann (c), Koller, Bickel – Douglas (Knup h-t), Türkyılmaz, Chapuisat (Hottiger 79)
The Swiss nullify the threat of the normally so attacking-prone Belgian side before the break, and then twice go ahead during an eventful first part of the second half. Switzerland, without a few players due to injury, only struggled when the visitors turned the screw, but in the end came away with a deserved point. Interesting to see Türkyılmaz with Chapuisat and Knup for the first time.

Qualifier 7
25.10.1989 Czechoslovakia 3-0 Switzerland
Switzerland (3-5-2): Brunner – Geiger, Herr, Weber – Heldmann, Baumann, Koller (Lorenz 70), Piffaretti (Andermatt h-t), Hermann – Bonvin, Türkyılmaz
This performance isn’t as bad as the score suggests. For large parts of the match, Stielike’s side is playing level with the Czechoslovakians, with the crowded midfield largely dominant and Bonvin and Türkyilmaz exploiting the channels. However, they pay the price for not attending to Bíleks gifted right peg – twice – and the last goal is somewhat ridiculous. The score perhaps still reflects some difference in quality, after all, and the story of Switzerland’s doomed campaign.

Qualifier 8
15.11.1989 Switzerland 2-1 Luxembourg
Goals: Türkyılmaz, Türkyılmaz
Switzerland (3-5-2): Brunner – Marini, Geiger, Herr – Heldmann (Schepull 59), Hermann (c), Koller, A Sutter (Bonvin h-t), Baumann – Knup, Türkyılmaz
Nothing but a win would suffice to see the the Swiss round their disappointing campaign off. There had been a boost in their previous home match, but Luxembourg proved to be stubborn, themselves recently having been boosted from a near miraculous draw in Belgium. 3-5-2 had not been a good recipe for the first half, and so they were back at 3-4-3 when Stielike introduced Bonvin for the start of the second half. He would get the equalizer as his shot went in on the near post, and later Knup would set Türkyılmaz up for his fifth goal of the qualification. Hermann had an improved midfield performane, and Geiger was excellent from his libero position.


Somewhat disappointing results for Switzerland, who never came close to challenge the top three teams for a place in the 1990 World Cup. They only amassed 5 points, which was a noticably poorer outcome than in previous qualification campaigns. Their only wins came against Luxembourg, and their remaining point was recorded against Belgium when it was all too late.

Daniel Jeandupeux was given only three games before the Swiss federation lost patience in him. The 4-1 win in Luxembourg wasn’t without promise, with Jeandupeux fielding an adventurous 4-3-3 formation including the suprise inclusion of Lucien Favre. But that result was followed up by a performance in Brussels which they easily could have lost by more than one goal, and his last match in charge was to be the defeat in Portugal. Although it would seem harsh to sack him after losing to Belgium and Portugal away, you can question some of his tactics for example in Brussels.

Besides, his replacement seemed a promising one: Uli Stielike. Unfortunately Switzerland couldn’t get anything from his first match in charge (in tandem with Wolfisberg) home against Czechoslovakia, and you sense that the Helvetians were out of contention for a place in Italia’90 after that – only halfway through the qualification. Stielike may have succeeded in composing a quite dynamic team for this vital match, but probably made a mistake in pairing Halter and Beat Sutter as strikers, as they were toothless upfront.

Still, there were maybe some positives to be taken from the four remaining fixtures in autumn 1989 under Stielike. He usually fielded an inventive 3-4-3 (or variations) with a crowded midfield often good at controlling possession, and some exciting players were also emerging. The matches against Czechoslovakia away (despite losing heavily 3-0) and Belgium home (2-2) were not bad at all. So perhaps some positive signs here for Switzerland at the end of the 80s, giving hope for the upcoming Euro 92 qualifiers. Among new players making their mark on the national team were Dominique Herr, Stéphane Chapuiat and Adrian Knup.

Of the more established players in the team, the alleged world star Heinz Hermann had a small disaster of a campaign. Italia1990.com have rated him at a paltry 6,70. His mediocre performances were reflected in the annual Swiss Player of the Year, where he didn’t even make top 10. Alain Geiger, on the other hand, proved why he was so highly rated in the French top flight, performing his libero role with much style – yes, even excelling as a midfielder at times. Another player the Swiss had expected more of was Xamax striker Beat Sutter, who was abysmal throughout the qualification, albeit usually played out of position on the right flank. Kubilay Türkyilmaz was showing more promise and in fact came close to challenge Geiger for the best Swiss player of the campaign. He would join Chapuisat and the rest of the young generation for Switzerland’s qualifications in the 90s.

Final position: 4 (out of 5)
Total record: 8 2 1 5 10-14 5
Home record: 4 1 1 2 5-6 3
Away record: 4 1 0 3 5-8 2

Player statistics

Number of players used: 34
Number of players including unused substitutes: 43
Ever-presents (720 mins): 1 (Hermann)
Leading goalscorer: Türkyılmaz (5)
Yellow/red cards: 8/0

– overview

Hermann, Heinz887201/0
Geiger, Alain77630
Türkyilmaz, Kubilay8626065(2)
Brunner, Martin662540
Weber, Martin665401/0
Koller, Marcel554302/0
Sutter, Beat5541111/0
Baumann, Herbert441360
Favre, Lucien44348
Herr, Dominique4312821/0
Marini, Stefan33270
Mottiez, Patrice332701/0
Sutter, Alain442691
Piffaretti, Blaise331225
Zuffi, Dario4222191
Andermatt, Mario3211192
Corminboeuf, Joël22180
Chapuisat, Stéphane22169
Bonvin, Christophe4131611
Heldmann, Marcel22149
Knup, Adrian2111351
Schepull, Peter2112121
Bickel, Thomas11190
Halter, André11901/0
Rey, François1190
Schällibaum, Marco1190
Tschuppert, Thomas11190
Birrer, Urs11273
Sutter, René1156
Douglas, Philippe1145
Lorenz, Marco1120
Lei-Ravello, Robert1119
Ryf, Claude1117
Hottiger, Marc1111
Colombo, Christian1
Huber, Stefan2
Lehmann, Stephan4
Perret, Philippe1
Rey, Olivier1
Sauthier, Michel1
Widmer, Roland1
Zwicker, Hans-Peter1
Fischer, Urs1

– game by game

PlayerLux (a)Bel (a)Por (a) Cze (h) Por (h) Bel (h) Cze (a) Lux (h) AppsMins
B Sutter90909072695411
A Sutter795690454270
R Sutter58158
Bickel R90190
Rey, F90190
Rey, OR
Missing data: Fifth sub in home tie against Portugal

– ratings

PosPlayerAverage ratingNumber of rated games
2Türkyılmaz 6,968
4Koller 6,805
9A Sutter6,654
10B Sutter6,545
Explanation to table: Total number of rated games: 8. A player needs to have obtained a rating in half or more of the games in order to be considered.


13.12.1989 Spain 2-1 Switzerland
Goal: Knup
Line-up: Brunner – Marini, Fischer, Schepull – Hottiger (Gämperle 69), Hermann (c), Piffaretti (Sylvestre 21), Baumann – Knup, Türkyılmaz, A Sutter (Chassot 72)

31.03.1990 Switzerland 0-1 Italy
Line-up: Brunner – Fischer, Koller, Herr – Hottiger, Piffaretti (Chassot 79), Hermann (c), Baumann – A Sutter, Knup, Chapuisat

03.04.1990 Switzerland 2-1 Romania
Goals: Hermann, Chassot
Line-up: Walker – Hottiger, Koller, Herr (Schepull h-t), Baumann – Piffaretti, Hermann (c), Chassot – A Sutter (Chapuisat 70), Knup, Hertig (Gigon h-t),

08.05.1990 Switzerland 1-1 Argentina
Goal: Türkyılmaz
Line-up: Walker – Hottiger, Geiger (Fischer h-t), Herr, Baumann (Schepull 78) – Piffaretti, Koller, Hermann (c) – Knup, Türkyılmaz, A Sutter (Chapuisat 53)

02.06.1990 Switzerland 2-1 United States
Goals: Schepull, Knup
Line-up: Walker – Sylvestre (Schepull h-t), Geiger, Herr – Hottiger, Piffaretti (Chapuisat h-t), Hermann (c), Baumann (Fischer h-t) – Knup, Türkyılmaz (Gertschen 67), Hertig