It was rough day for the Swisss national team and Bayern Munich midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri. After giving up an early set piece goal after some horrific marking by Johan Djourou, they spent much of the rest of the first half floundering around the pitch.
The attacking midfield trio of Kevin Stocker, Valon Bahrami, and Xherdan Shaqiri had a nightmare first half as Ecuador played staunch defense. Stocker continually drifted left in attack isolating Xherdan Shaqiri. Devoid of help other then from fullback Stephan Lichtsteiner, Xherdan Shaqiri resorted to pumping in wild crosses and 30-yard shots. The match went into the half with Ecuador firmly in the lead and Ottmar Hitzfeld's side in desperate need of something approaching intelligence.
However, they got it in the second half as the Swiss offense woke up early. Kevin Stocker was replaced by Admir Mehmedi in a move that paid off immediately as Wolfsburg fullback Ricardo Rodriguez sent in a low powerful that Mehmedi coolly deposited into the back of the net. From there on out, the match was end-to-end from both sides as both Ecuador and Switzerland recognized the value of these three points in their group. However, it was Switzerland who took all them all with only seconds left in stoppage time. A last ditch attack from Ecuador was snatched away in the box by Bahrami before a full field counterattack saw late second half substitute Haris Seferovic slam home a cross from Ricardo Rodriguez to give Switzerland the advantage in the group.
In terms of what this match meant for Bayern Munich, Xherdan Shaqiri's shine really diminished. The attacking midfielder has an atrocious game. His first touch was extremely heavy, while his passes, cross, and shots were all over/under powered. Starting the match out on the right side of midfield, Shaqiri was the focal conduit for all of Switzerland's attacking play. With him completely isolated, his influence was pretty abysmal for the first 45 minutes. He was also Switzerland's designated set piece taker in the first half; a duty he proceeded to accomplish in the most atrocious manner possible. The second half saw him moved into the middle of the park where he played a much bigger role in pushing the Switzerland attack forward then he did in the first half. It also saw Shaqiri completely taken off set piece duty entirely. However, there was still the continued problem with his first touch.
Despite his struggles, Shaqiri attempted 37 passes at an 89% completion rate, including 4 key passes and was a vital part of the Switzerland attack. But for anyone used to watching Xherdan Shaqiri split open defenses and weave his magic in the Bundesliga for Bayern Munich, this was a very disappointing match for the 22-year-old. That he was crowned the Budweiser Man of the Match was a hilarious cherry on top, especially given Ricardo Rodriguez's two assists and excellent performance in this match. If I'm a Liverpool supporter, and my club is seemingly all in on Shaqiri, a performance like today is an extremely worrying sign, especially coupled with the fact that Shaqiri is coming off multiple hamstring injuries.
Their next clash with France on Friday will be the true test for both Xherdan Shaqiri and Switzerland.