Embolo Gives The Swiss A Narrow Victory Over A Spirited Cameroon Side
Breel Embolo’s goal just three minutes into the second half was enough for Switzerland to collect all three points against a spirited Cameroon side who had the Swiss worried after their determined first half performance.
This was the first time that Switzerland and Cameroon had ever met in an international fixture as they looked to kick off Group F with some fireworks. In the build-up to kick off, the Switzerland manager Murat Yakin described this national side as “the best that has ever existed” as they are fancied by a few to be a potential underdog for the World Cup.
His side included current Premier League players in Manchester City’s Manuel Akanji and Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka as well as Monaco striker Breel Embolo and former Inter Milan and Bayern Munich winger Xherdan Shaqiri. The wealthy of experience all over the pitch for Switzerland is why some are claiming them as a potential underdog and they will be a very difficult side to beat.
Cameroon have lost each of their last seven matches at a World Cup with only Mexico losing more with a record which dates back to the 1950’s. They will be hoping to avoid defeat again but even though form of late hasn’t been very impressive at the World Cup they are the most qualified African side to the World Cup making their eighteen appearance in the competition.
There are multiple recognisable names in the Cameroon side with Brentford’s Bryan Mbeumo starting on the right wing alongside Bayern Munich’s Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. Inter Milan’s Andre Onana starts in goal with the experience Nkoulou in front of him and the superstar in midfield is Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa who has been a vital player in Napoli currently sitting top in Serie A.
The first real chance of the game came after ten minutes as Cameroon broke forward on the counterattack with Mbeumo who drilled a cross across the box. Sommer palmed it away but only as far as Toko-Ekambi who from just inside the penalty area blazed a brilliantly opportunity straight over the bar. Just minutes later some lovely play from Choupo-Moting got him around Akanji and through one on one with Sommer in the Switzerland goal. Akanji recovered well to put the striker under pressure as Sommer pulled off a good low save as Cameroon upped the pressure on the Swiss.
Just before the half hour mark, once again it was lovely play from Cameroon as Mbeumo and Choupo-Moting linked up on the right-hand side as they slid a ball through to Hongla who’s shot across goal was turned away by Sommer. Cameroon looked by far the better side after the first half an hour as they looked dangerous on the counterattack but also started to control the ball. Switzerland, however, were lacking any creativity coming forward and were having to settle for backwards passes as they struggled to break down Cameroon’s strong defensive structure.
Switzerland’s best chance of the half came just a minute from half time which was completely against the run of play as Vargas whipped in a corner. Akanji rose highest for a free header in the box which he glanced towards the far post but he got the timing wrong as it bounced just wide of the far post. The half would end goalless with everyone wondering if the Swiss could be that poor again in the second half and if Cameroon could keep that intensity up.
However, just three minutes into the half, some brilliant play from the Swiss midfield got the ball out to Shaqiri who found Embolo who had peeled off his defender in the middle and he smashed the ball past Onana. Switzerland had been comfortably second best for the whole of the first half but they looked fired up and that Yakin had got into them at half time for their poor performance as they looked to extend their lead.
They very almost did about fifteen minutes later when once again Shaqiri was causing havoc down the right and played a very similar ball across the box like for the first goal. This time it was met by Vargas who looked like he had smashed it pass Onana but the Cameroon keeper had his shoulder to thank as the ball rifled through his hands and the deflection took it behind for a corner.
The goal just three minutes into the match was enough to get Switzerland all three points over Cameroon and a winning start to their World Cup campaign. Cameroon looked bubbly, bright and full of confidence in the first half but the early goal which came against the run of play sucked the life out of them and saw a fairly lacklustre second half display.
Switzerland really pushed on in the second half and showed their class after having to negotiate what Cameroon were impressively throwing at them during the first half. The Swiss will hope they can replicate their second half performance on Monday afternoon when they face Brazil in their toughest test in this group stage. As for Cameroon they will face Serbia on Monday morning which will be a must win game if they want any chance of progression through to the knockout stages.