Switzerland 1-0 Cameroon: The Swiss take the points in a close encounter
Source: Getty Images/Fabrice Coffrini

A Breel Embolo goal 3 minutes after half-time proved the difference between the two sides in the opening game in Group G.

Despite Cameroon playing well on the break in the first period, they could not capitalize on the chances they created. Switzerland were poor but came out more composed in the second half and dominated, their play warranting the victory. 

Both sides will need to improve when they face their group opponents Brazil and Serbia if they want to make the Round of 16. 

Story of the match

In form Bayern Munich striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Cameroon’s joint top scorer in qualifying started up front for the Indomitable Lions, manager Rigobert Song setting up his side in a 4-3-3 formation. 

Yann Sommer, despite not playing since the 10th October for his club Borussia Monchengladbach, started in goal for Switzerland.

This was the first meeting to take place between the sides in international football in any capacity.

The opening ten minutes of the game saw little incident with both sides taking time to suss the other out and unwilling to show their hand.

Cameroon created the first clear cut opportunity when Bryan Mbeumo was fed an excellent through ball into the penalty area, he could only shoot straight at Sommer before Toko Ekambi blasted the rebound over when he had more time to compose himself.

Choupo-Moting brilliantly won possession around the half-way line and broke towards the Swiss goal, but under pressure could only scuff his effort which was easily saved.

The African side after those chances grew in confidence, sensing they could hurt the Swiss with their speed on the break, utilizing a more direct approach.

Switzerland dominated possession but looked rather toothless, barely troubling the Song’s defence. 

Mbeumo, who had a lively start to the game, broke down the right, attacking the space before working the ball into the box for Toto-Ekambi, but his shot was blocked resulting in a corner which came to nothing.

An excellent team move once again involving Mbeumo and Choupo-Moting, led to midfielder Martin Hongla forcing Sommer into yet another save down to his right.

The Hellas Verona player will be disappointed he didn’t make more of the opportunity. 

Right back Collins Fai charged down the right on the overlap, his low cross was aimed towards Toko Ekambi but Martin Elvedi brilliantly intercepted, denying what would have been a certain goal.

Fai, received the first yellow card of the game shortly after, he was punished for a clumsy challenge on a Swiss defender. 

It took until 39 mins for Switzerland to get in behind the Cameroon defence. Bree Embolo was set through, about to pull the trigger only for Castelletto to time his tackle to perfection.

Defender Elvidi headed the subsequent corner wide, the attempt should have been better as he was unmarked in a good position.  

Just before the half Xherdan Shaqiri floated a ball into the box, Embolo’s header into the air caused confusion where a needless corner was given away.

Manuel Akanji will have been disappointed to see his header from the set piece flash past the post.

Cameroon’s tactical approach has proved very effective in the opening 45 with only poor shooting preventing them from opening the score.

Switzerland were very poor with their play very laborious and their backline exposed to the pace on the break.

After starting the second half brightly, Embolo got on the end of an excellent Shaqiri cross to put Murat Yakin’s team 1-0 and score his first-ever goal at a World Cup.

The goal helped to settle Swiss nerves as they took control of the game and continued to dominate possession. 

Choupo-Moting, sharp on his toes, did well to turn his marker and drive down the side of the penalty area, he was forced to shoot with little support available. 

Elvedi picked up the first booking for Switzerland for a tactical foul on the halfway line, preventing Choupo-Moting from breaking forward.

Andre Onana pulled off a brilliant reaction save to deny Ruben Vargas when the winger was played in by the busy Shaqiri. 

Embolo was then denied by an excellent touch from Anguissa who thought he was going to have an easy tap after the corner travelled through without any challenge.

To help maintain their control of the game, Yakin made a treble substitution on 72 minutes - Fabrian Frei, Noak Okafor and Haris Seferovic replaced Djibril Sow, Breel Embolo and Xherdan Shaqiri. 

Cameroon, desperate to find a way back into the game brought influential striker Vincent Aboubakar on for Choupo-Moting and former Spurs player Georges-Kevin Nkoudou came on for Karl Toko Ekambi.

Nkoudo played a sublime crossed field ball for the advancing Fai, the full back’s cross though causing a scare to Sommer in goal ultimately drifted out for a goal kick. 

Substitute Fabian Rieder did excellently down the left wing, his low cross nearly set up striker Seferovic only for last-ditch Cameroon defending denying the Galatasaray striker.

Captain Granit Xhaka forced Onana into a smart save down low, firing a strike low from around 25 yards out.

With the game near a close, Seferovic was denied once again miraculously by brave Cameroon defending, his shot was blocked by Jean-Charles Castelletto.

In the end Switzerland held on quite comfortably, controlling the game excellently and deserved the win.

Cameroon, after impressing in the first half were very poor in the second 45 struggling to create any meaningful opportunities and looking jaded. 

Player of the Match

In a game where no individual really stood out, Cameroon defender Jean Castelletto deserves a mention for his excellent defending.

He made several key blocks and some vital interceptions to deny Switzerland from creating clear-cut chances and from enhancing the scoreline with the game still in the balance. 

Castelletto can be pleased with his work throughout the game and he will need to be in top form once again when Cameroon face Alexsander Mitrovic’s Serbia on Monday morning.