Spain 1-2 Switzerland: La Roja's Nations League Finals hopes dealt major blow

By Sports Desk September 24, 2022

Spain will have to win in Portugal if they are to reach the Nations League Finals after suffering a shock 2-1 home defeat to Switzerland in Group A2 on Saturday.

As Portugal cruised to a comfortable 4-0 win over Czech Republic, Luis Enrique's side failed to make the most of their superiority in Zaragoza and slumped to a first defeat since the 2021 Nations League final loss to France.

Spain had great difficulty converting possession into a goal threat, at no point in the first half looking likely to cancel out Manuel Akanji's opener.

Marco Asensio did inspire Jordi Alba's equaliser early in the second half, but an Eric Garcia own goal almost instantly had them playing catch up again and a second equaliser never materialised.

Despite their dominance of the ball, Spain struggled to carve out chances and were behind in the 21st minute as Akanji met Ruben Vargas' corner with a header that found the top-right corner.

The only other first-half shot on target for either team arrived just before the break, Unai Simon forced to keep Xherdan Shaqiri's effort out at his near post after the winger's incisive run.

It took 55 minutes for Spain to muster an accurate attempt and it brought the equaliser, with Alba hammering home after Asensio released him at the end of a brilliant solo run.

But the visitors quickly restored their lead – Garcia ultimately knocking into his own net following Akanji's flick-on from another Vargas corner.

La Roja played most of the final 30 minutes camped in Switzerland's half, but their only clear opportunity saw Yann Sommer get down to thwart Carlos Soler and seal victory in stoppage time.

Related items

  • World Cup chief says 'improvements have to happen' after death of '400 to 500' workers World Cup chief says 'improvements have to happen' after death of '400 to 500' workers

    World Cup chief Hassan Al-Thawadi admits "improvements have to happen" after estimating "between 400 and 500" migrant workers died working on projects related to Qatar 2022.

    The awarding of the competition to the Gulf state in 2010 has only grown more controversial in the years since due to its chequered past on human rights issues, its treatment of migrant workers and the illegality of homosexuality.

    The official count for those to have died on World Cup sites is 37 among non-work related deaths and three from work-related accidents. However, it was reported by The Guardian last year the overall figure may surpass 6,500 deaths.

    FIFA has constantly reiterated it is fully committed to protecting the rights of workers on projects such as constructing stadia, while president Gianni Infantino launched an impassioned defence on the eve of the competition.

    While the actual death figure is unknown, Al-Thawadi – who was responsible for ensuring infrastructure and development projects were delivered in readiness for Qatar 2022 – accepts it is a lot higher than the 40 previously reported.

    "The estimate is around 400, between 400 and 500," he told Piers Morgan in an interview with TalkTV. "I don't have the exact number; that's something that's been discussed. One death is a death too many, plain and simple.

    "I think every year the health and safety standards on the sites are improving, at least on our sites. The World Cup sites that we were responsible for, most definitely to the extent that you've got trade unions commending the work that's been done on the World Cup sites and the improvements."

    When asked directly if the health and safety standards were good enough at the beginning of the project, Al-Thawadi said: "I think overall the need for labour reform itself dictates that yes, improvements have to happen.

    "Just so we're clear, this was something we recognised before we bid. The improvements that have already happened aren't because of the World Cup. These are improvements we knew that we had to do because of our own values.

    "Improvements that had to happen whether it's our health and safety standards, whether it's in terms of improving the accommodation standards, whether it's in terms of dismantling the Kafala System.

    "The World Cup served as a vehicle, an accelerator, as a catalyst because of the spotlight which we recognised early on was going to be shed. It caused a lot of initiative not only in terms of improvement in isolation but in terms of enforcing it as well. 

    "That's where today we got to a position where our most ardent of critics consider us to be a benchmark in the region."

    Al-Thawadi addressed a number of other issues in the interview, such as whether Qatar is a safe place for people in same-sex relationships to visit.

    "It's safe for everybody to be in Qatar, yes. Unequivocally, Piers, yes. I think it's safe for everybody to live in Qatar, Piers. From our position, and my personal position, we've always said everyone's welcome.

    "We've worked hard to create an environment and to ensure that people from all parts of the world, all walks of life come into Qatar, engage and interact with people from the Arab world and the Middle East even though we might not see eye to eye on certain things, even though we might not agree on certain things, but everyone is welcome."

  • Former Arsenal and Man City defender Toure announced as new Wigan manager Former Arsenal and Man City defender Toure announced as new Wigan manager

    Kolo Toure has been announced as Wigan Athletic's new manager, with the former Arsenal and Manchester City defender joining on a contract through to June 2026.

    The ex-Ivory Coast international departs Leicester City, where he was a first team coach under Brendan Rodgers, to take charge at the struggling Championship outfit.

    Wigan, who are currently 22nd and embroiled in a relegation battle, dismissed Leam Richardson after six losses in seven games earlier this month, just weeks after he signed a new contract.

    "We are delighted that Kolo has become the new manager of Wigan Athletic," chief executive Malachy Brannigan issued in a statement.

    "From the earliest of conversations we had with Kolo, it was evident to us that he had instantly bought into the values of the club. We look forward to working closely with Kolo and his team."

    Toure, a two-time Premier League winner during his playing days with Arsenal and City, will take charge of his first match on December 10 against Millwall.

  • Croatia facing FIFA charge following fans' 'primitive' abuse of Canada's Serb goalkeeper Croatia facing FIFA charge following fans' 'primitive' abuse of Canada's Serb goalkeeper

    Croatia are the subject of disciplinary proceedings after Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan was targeted by supporters during their World Cup match last week.

    FIFA opened proceedings on Tuesday "due to the behaviour of [Croatia's] fans".

    Borjan is an ethnic Serb who was born in Knin in Croatia but fled with his family to Belgrade in 1995 during 'Operation Storm' – a Croatian offensive in its war of independence.

    He later moved on to Canada, the country he represents at international level, but has spent much of his club career in Serbia, where he now plays for Red Star Belgrade.

    During Croatia's 4-1 win over Canada, Borjan was the subject of a flag in the stands that read "Knin '95 – nothing runs like Borjan". Offensive chants were also reported to be aimed in his direction.

    "I have nothing to comment on that, it only speaks about them," Borjan said after the game.

    "I heard that they shouted and insulted me. This shows that they are primitives and should work on themselves and their families, because they obviously have some frustration, so they come here to vent it."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.