From underdogs to the tournament’s most efficient team, Switzerland’s march to the final has been spotless. With four wins out of four and no goals conceded, the Alpine nation are the first country to have reached the Under-21 final with a perfect defensive record. Coach Pierluigi Tami has skillfully melded together a group of talented players – four were in the Swiss squad that lifted the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 2009 – into a solid and perfectly organized team.
Like their opponents in this final, Spain, Switzerland showed their squad is full of players able to make the difference; right-winger Xherdan Shaqiri was Man of the Match against Denmark and the Czech Republic; Fabian Frei and Innocent Emeghara were key in the defeat of Iceland; the striker with African roots was vital too against Belarus. Finally, a superb four-men defence led by goalkeeper Yann Sommer, has kept clean sheet after clean sheet, conceding not a single goal in 390 minutes of play.
However, it was striker Admir Mehmedi who wrote a glorious page of his country’s footballing history, with a powerful shot that defeated a tough and defensive-minded Czech Republic outfit in extra-time, that booked Switzerland’s slot in this final. And together with a place in the Under-21 final, the Swiss have also qualified for the London Olympics, their first time at the games since 1928. Now facing the Spanish, Tami’s men swear their fairytale is not finished
Triple Crown In Sight
The abyss loomed for tournament favourites Spain in the semi-final, as Luis Milla’s side came within a few minutes of being eliminated – the Spanish were one goal down against outsiders Belarus. The masters of ball possession seemed unable to break the barricades raised up by a well-disciplined Eastern European side, despite controlling the game from the kick-off; it took 89 minutes for the tournament’s leading scorer Adrian Lopez to break down Belarus’ wall.
Apart from Adrian, coach Milla himself could claim to have the biggest impact on the encounter. Substitutes Diego Capel, Jeffren and Bojan Krkic proved themselves vital in the Spanish side’s comeback, providing one goal and two assists between them. Spain’s boss now faces a number of tough decisions ahead of the final, especially when it comes to deciding which two wingers should support Juan Mata and Adrian up front.
With an imperious playmaker in the form of Barcelona’s Thiago Alcantara in midfield, a solid defensive unit led by potentially world-class goalkeeper David de Gea, and two full backs – Martin Montoya and Didac Vila – who consistently provide support, Spain and their tiki-taka football are confident of lifting the European Under-21 title.
Players to watch
Switzerland – Admir Mehmedi: With three goals to his name Admir Mehmedi is Switzerland’s top scorer. Possessing great technique and an ability to create space, Tami deploys the striker in the centre of his team’s attack. A regular at Swiss Super League side Zurich, Mehmedi has been given first team football ahead of bench-warmers Mario Gavranovic (Schalke) and Nassim Ben Khalifa (Wolfsburg).
Spain – Adrian Lopez: This is a predatory striker finishing a troubled season in style. Adrian Lopez suffered the pain of relegation from La Liga with Deportivo La Coruna, but has forgotten those difficult times with five goals in four games for Spain, including two braces that handed his country victories over the Czech Republic and Belarus respectively. Adrian has justified the faith Milla has placed in him, and despite not boasting a strong physique, the hitman is lethal in the box.
On paper Spain start this final as clear favourites: 14 players in their squad have been involved with various Spanish youth teams in international finals, and 12 of those were successful in lifting silverware. Moreover, many of the Spanish have enhanced their first team experience by turning out for clubs such as Barcelona, Valencia and Atletico Madrid, while their opponents featured only for the likes of Basel, Zurich and Sassuolo.
However, Switzerland have shown they have enough talent and tactical organisation to perform at the highest levels of the game. And the lack of a win-at-all-costs attitude and the pressure this generates could be the Swiss’ secret weapon. The Alpine country also won the 2009 FIFA Under-17 World Cup, a tournament in which no one predicted the side would finish as champions. History can repeat itself here. Switzerland 2-1 Spain.
Fonte: Inside Futbol