Inside the Brain of a Teenage Soccer Genius

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Switzerland 1-3 Argentina

Xherdan Shaqiri proved he was worth the money paid
by Bayern Munich but played in Messi's shadow

It was an unfortunate match for Fran├žois Affolter, who was called up to the Swiss National Team to replace an injured Joan Djourou who suffered from a muscle tear in Arsenal’s weekend fixture with Tottenham. Affolter gifted Argentina’s Sergio Aguero with a pass right to his feet and the Manchester City striker was able to convert it into an assist for the undeniably talented Lionel Messi. Affolter conceded a penalty in stoppage time when he fouled Gonzalo Higuain and Messi was able to slot the ball past substitute keeper Wolfli and secure Argentina a 3-1 win.

Messi opened the scoring in the twentieth minute when he slotted a cheeky backheel from Aguero into the back of Benaglio’s net. A series of quick passes from the Argentina attacking force helped them penetrate the Swiss defense with ease and quickly find the back of the net.
Switzerland’s only goal came from the two young Basel starlets Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka. Xhaka’s run down the wing was rewarded and he sent the ball into the box towards striker Admir Mahmedi and attacking midfielder Eren Derdiyok, who dummied the pass and let it keep rolling right to the feet of his Basel teammate Xherdan Shaqiri, who had made an equally penetrating run down the opposite flank and was left unmarked. Shaqiri buried the ball at the top of the net, living up to his nickname “Shaq Attack” and putting the host side level 1-1. The 50th minute goal would be Switzerland’s highlight of the game as Messi and Aguero proved to be quite the handful for Switzerland’s inexperienced young defenders, Affolter (20) and Rodriguez (19).
Messi’s second goal in the 88th minute came courtesy of a poor ball from Affolter and Messi was able to dance his way around Switzerland’s two defenders and put the ball past the already committed defender Philippe Senderos and goalkeeper Marco Wolfli and into the back of the net.
Switzerland had a strong offensive showing, contrary to the disciplined back four and weak attacking midfield that many think of when they think of Swiss football. Bayern-bound Xherdan Shaqiri showed that he may well be worth every euro of his undisclosed transfer fee while Granit Xhaka and Fabien Frei lived up to the hype surrounding their recent performances for FC Basel in the Champions League. Diego Benaglio is still a main man for Switzerland after he set a record for consecutive clean sheets through World Cup qualification and friendly matches. Although Affolter and his defense began to lose composure in the 88th minute plus stoppage time, they were able to hold off Lionel Messi well in the second half while the offense came close to scoring again. Shots from Shaqiri, Xhaka, Derdiyok and Mahmedi came painfully close to the inside of the posts while Argentina made their fair share of threats on the Swiss goal. 

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