The two teams were playing for a spot in the FIFA World Cup quarter-finals but neither could score in 120 minutes and one of them didn’t even find the net in the penalty shootout. Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the observer, but there are some things even the most unwavering of contrarians would struggle to find nice-looking. One such example was the last-16 game between Switzerland and Ukraine at the 2006 World Cup.
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A game is so dull that dishwater should take sin if ever mentioned in the same sentence as this horror show. Ukraine finally arose victorious after 120 agonising minutes, Oleg Blokhin’s team winning in a penalty shootout that included only a fringe increase in quality on what had gone on before. Reaching the quarter-finals in their first and so far, only Football World Cup.
World Cup was an admirable achievement for Ukraine, but there’s an argument that both teams should have been closely expelled from the contest. The question of what makes a football game great has no accurately correct answer but asks a range of people and a few themes are likely to emerge: goals, end-to-end action, intensity, quality, drama, incident, and argument.
Switzerland Football World Cup team vs Ukraine was lacking in all seven of these sections
The boredom of much of this occasion should not reduce by Ukraine’s accomplishment, wrote a media reporter in his game report. It was to be respected, even if it was rarely annoying to watch. The BBC resounded these feelings, albeit in more political tones, in a tightly challenged game both sides found it difficult to create clear openings in the penalty area, with the game’s best odds coming from set-pieces as well as some powerful long-range shots.
Even FIFA’s report thrashed to find a positive angle, telling it as a scrappy affair devoid of highlights that could never grow any genuine ﬂow. On TV, Ray Stubbs said, Dull doesn’t fairly do it justice. Franz Beckenbauer must have doubted why he gave up a night of his honeymoon to see the FIFA World Cup game. For more to know about Football World Cup Tickets Click here.
A highlights bundle broadcast by ITV later that night bounced straight to the penalty shootout to stop the TV audience from taking further punishment. Italy 4-3 West Germany this was not. In reflection, we should have known what was coming. Both World Cup teams put great stock in keeping their sheets clean. Switzerland had topped a group comprising France, Togo and South Korea without conceding a goal.
And this was Ukraine’s eighth clean sheet in nine Football World Cup games in 2006. The 45,000 audiences inside Cologne’s Rhein Energie Stadium were never likely to be preserved as a spectacle. Even so, the opening phases passed by without anything that even look like an incident. Johan Cruyff used to beg his players to treat the ball as a friend; on that basis, the Adidas Team Geist must have harshly wronged all 22 players on the ground.
Neither FIFA World Cup team was able to retain control for very long, with a burst of hurried permits and sloppy traces giving way to what must be the earliest Mexican wave in the history of football. Rarely a deviant eccentric would look to break forward and progress up the field, but such mistakes were quickly suppressed as both teams resumed their joint endeavour to cure insomnia.
Ukraine Football World Cup team captain Andriy Shevchenko hitting the crossbar with a header and Switzerland striker Alexander Frei hitting the woodwork with a well-struck free-kick were the only instants of note in the first half. The 15-minute break carried welcome respite, but the early phases of the second period made it clear that no teacups had been sent flying in the dressing rooms at half-time.
Both World Cup games, it appeared, were flawlessly happy with how the opening 45 minutes had played out. Ukraine started the happier after the break but failed to exam Pascal Zuberbuhler in the Switzerland goal, with Andriy Voronin’s notional long-ranger the only time the Basel goalkeeper was called into the act before the hour-mark.
Not that the Switzerland Football World Cup team managed any well, the first time they verified Ukrainian goalkeeper Oleksandr Shovkovskiy was an overhit free-kick which was wandering well wide of the mark anyway. This is bloody awful, said subtlety’s Mick McCarthy, swearing his luck at being placed on co-commentary duty for the evening. Tell us what you think, Mick.
The final chance in the game came in the 75th minute when a brushed header from Ukraine’s Andriy Husin cruised barely wide of the far post after Zuberbuhler had panicked unconvincingly at Maksym Kalynychenko’s angle. After that, nothing. Other FIFA World Cup knockout ties have released off in strength in extra time, but no other game has started from such a low base.
Tranquillo Barnetta was the only player to collect a yellow card in two hours of what can only roughly be termed football, a lack of quality can sometimes be excused, but Switzerland and Ukraine didn’t even have the graciousness to give us a bit of needle. And so, to penalties, where the competition threatened to descend into total farce after Shevchenko and Marco Streller missed the first two spot-kicks.
Is anybody going to score in Cologne tonight? Guy Mowbray asked, tightfitting ever tighter to his sanity. McCarthy, only half-joking, advised tossing a coin to decide the winner. The ball was finally presented to the net when 21-year-old Football World Cup player Artem Milevskiy showed great courage to coolly convert a Panenka and edge Ukraine in front in the shootout.
Barnetta then raged his effort against the bar and Serhiy Rebrov made no error before Ricardo Cabanas’ miss left Switzerland gazing defeat in the face. Up stepped Ukraine right-back Oleh Husyev, whose forceful finish sent his nation into the quarter-finals. Switzerland, meanwhile, became the first team in FIFA World Cup history not to score a single penalty in a shootout and the first to exit the competition without yielding a goal.
Part of the joy of football lies in the unknown, the complete ignorance of what you’re going to see when you arrive at the stadium or turn on the TV. It wouldn’t be as fun if every game was a 4-4 thriller. Maybe the two teams did everyone a favour, reminding us that enjoyable encounters should be valued when they come around.
You need the lows to rise the highs. Even though Ukraine’s 0-0 Switzerland Football World Cup team was the dullest game in Football World Cup history, we should still be thankful it outspread as it did. Let’s just hope there isn’t a repeat in Russia this summer once in a lifetime is more than sufficient.
Austria v Switzerland 1954 highest scoring FIFA World Cup game
On June 26th 1954, in the blazing 40°C heat, Austria and Switzerland made history as they set a Football World Cup record that still stands. The “Hitzeschlacht von Lausanne” battle in the heat of Lausanne as the game came to be known, holds the record for the highest-scoring Football World Cup game in history.
Host nation Switzerland struck first, as Robert Ballaman rifled the ball into the roof of the net from outside the box in the 16th minute. Striker Josef Hugi added another goal one minute after the first, and counted again in the 19th minute, putting Switzerland 3-0 up before 20 minutes had passed. This lead did not last long yet, as Austria scored in the 25th, 26th and 27th minutes, to level the mark in a curiously exciting first half an hour.
The first half’s capers were not finished there, as Austria counted in the 32nd, and 34th minutes to go 5-3 up. 39 minutes into the game, Switzerland carried one back. Austria has presented a penalty in the 42nd minute which was missed by Alfred Corner the kick taker. With nine goals in the first half, this is another best unsurprisingly for the highest-scoring half in Football World Cup history.
Nine minutes after halftime, Theodor Wagner completed his hat-trick for Austria, putting them up 6-4. This hat-trick was copied by Josef Hugi who counted his third of the game in the 60th minute to put Switzerland back to a one-goal shortage. The final goal of the highly amusing World Cup game came from Erich Probst, of Austria who went on to win the game 7-5 in a timeless thriller.
The 1954 Football World Cup saw four of the top ten highest-scoring games in World Cup history, as Hungary beat Germany and South Korea 8-3 and 9-0 correspondingly, and Germany beat Turkey 7-2. The freshest entry into the top 10 came from the 2014 World Cup as Germany remarkably destroyed Brazil 7-1 in the semi-finals.
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