Murat Yakin expected “a match for the attackers” this Thursday in Abu Dhabi against Ghana, a week before facing Cameroon at the World Cup in Qatar. The coach could only be disappointed with what he saw.
Breel Embolo, Ruben Vargas, Xherdan Shaqiri, Noah Okafor or even Haris Seferovic did not score. Worse: they created almost no clear chances. Lawrence Ati-Zigi, goalkeeper of FC Saint-Gall in the Super League, had a very quiet start to the afternoon. More than his counterpart Yann Sommer, back to competition a month after an injury that occurred on October 18, who had to get the ball twice in the back of his net.
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Final score: 2-0, with goals scored by Mohammed Salisu and Antoine Semenyo in the 70th and 74th minutes of play.
An experimental National
Of course, the importance of the result of the preparation matches must always be put into perspective. The Nati could of course have hoped for better than to approach its big event of the year after a defeat against the 61st team in the world, the lowest ranked among the 32 who will compete in the World Cup. But Murat Yakin had deliberately decided to use this part more as a laboratory than as a dress rehearsal.
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The Basel did not line up all those who are expected to start against Cameroon, like Djibril Sow, Nico Elvedi or Ricardo Rodriguez. Nor did he use the 4-3-3 that allowed the Nati to recently beat Portugal and Spain, but a 3-5-2 that we imagine him using as an alternative during the FIFA Cup. world. Finally, to spare those who needed it and make those who lacked rhythm play, he ended the meeting with a few quirks that will probably not be repeated – like Denis Zakaria in central defense.
The problem is that few of the tests carried out in the overheated laboratory in Abu Dhabi have proved conclusive. On the right side of the three-man defense, Manuel Akanji appeared much less sovereign than in a central two-man hinge. At the heart of the game rather than on a wing, Xherdan Shaqiri did not have much influence on the offensive animation. And in general, the Nati had a thousand difficulties to move a, it must be said, solid opposing team.
The art of hiding your game
Positive point: at the start of the match, Breel Embolo was very lively and inspired, both in his calls and in his deliveries. The man is in good shape. But everyone already knew that…
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For watchers of the Swiss team, and probably future opponents too, the lines couldn’t be more blurred. Does Murat Yakin think his 4-3-3 is so good that he didn’t need to revise it a week before the World Cup? Or has he intended from the start to play the tournament with a three-man defense, which would explain why he has not called up more full-backs? The man proves to be a master in the art of hiding his game. The important thing is that he and his men know what to expect.