“Naughty” knocked the defending champions out of the competition and are in the quarter-finals of the European Championship

For the defending champions, the final stage of the 2024 European Football Championship was already in the Round of 16. The Italians, already unconvincing in the group stage, lost 0:2 (0:1) in Berlin on Saturday after a very weak performance by Switzerland. Thanks to goals from Remo Frouler (37th) and Ruben Vargas (46th), the great Swiss are in the quarter-finals, as they were three years ago, and the winner of Sunday’s game between England and Slovakia awaits next Saturday.

Italy captain Luciano Spalletti made six changes compared to the last group game against Croatia (1:1). Gianluca Mancini replaced the previously excellent but suspended central defender Riccardo Calafiori, winger Federico Chiesa and striker Gianluca Scamacca returned to the team, with Niccolò Fagioli, Brian Cristante and Stephane El Shaarawy in the starting line-up. Time.

But the changes didn’t work. The Swiss dominated the game, establishing themselves in the Italian half of the game for long periods with their pressing and collective play. In the 24th minute, Murad Yakin’s side created their first big chance. Briel Mbolo made a solo run towards Gianluigi Donnarumma but was denied by the Italian goalkeeper. Instantly dangerous by four-time world champion Ceesa – this was exceptional.

The nightmare begins in the second half

The Swiss held on in temperatures below 30 degrees in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium and took a well-deserved lead. After a cross from Vargas, Fühler had plenty of time to prepare the ball in the middle of the penalty area and took the lead with a shot that was slightly deflected by Mancini (37′). Disappointing across the board, the Italians were fortunate to go into the break trailing by just one goal. Fabian Ryder’s free kick was cleared by Donnarumma with the help of the bar (45th + 1).

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The time came 27 seconds after the restart. The Italians had the kick-off, but immediately the Swiss combined to lose the ball forward, putting Vargas in a shooting position and beating Donnarumma unharmed.

Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer, the Italian champion with Inter Milan, had only one threat, but that came from his own man. Defender Fabian Schar heads the ball over the bar (52′). In the end, the Italians came out on top, a shot from Scamaca, possibly offside, and ended up on the post (75th). A first victory over Italy in 31 years was not in danger.

In 2021, just as they beat France on penalties, the Swiss once again knocked out a major footballing nation in the round of 16. For Italy, this is the next low after missing out on the World Cup finals in 2018 and 2022, with the glow of European Championship success finally fading in between. This means Spain is the only team to successfully defend the European Championship title in 2012.

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