The Underdog – Three Approaches – World Cup Edition – Switzerland

Unlike Iceland, Switzerland were up for this game and for good reason. The thing is that their approach at being the underdog is to not really be much of an underdog. Brazil are currently ranked 2nd in the world. Switzerland? Would you believe 6th? Now, the FIFA rankings may not be the best method of ranking, but it’s all we have. If you want a better idea, check out these stats from FC Tables.

In their last 6 games Switzerland have scored more than Brazil in their last 6, and neither have lost in that time. Over the last 40 games (42 for Brazil) the stats are reasonably comparable as well. The reality is that Switzerland aren’t much of an underdog. Although the very mention of “Brazil” and “World Cup” in the sentence inspires thoughts of Pele or Ronaldo (the original) the reality is that they didn’t look all that inspired. It didn’t help that Neymar has more trouble staying on his feet than a newborn fawn in an earthquake, and didn’t do much useful with the ball when he was able to stabilize.

But this is about Switzerland, not Brazil’s failings. They approached the game with confidence. They were confident they could not only stop Brazil, but they would be able to compete. They didn’t approach the game as though they were losers trying to grab something, they went into the game with confidence and played a competitive game of soccer.

Switzerland set about neutralizing the Brazil threat, which was highly effective and it took a world-class strike to get past them. They broke Brazil down, and from a possession perspective had almost as much of the ball, showing confidence, belief, and fight.

Here are today’s three takeaways:

1 – Sometimes you may feel like the underdog, but when you break it down and look at the facts, often you are up against a reputation, not reality.

2 – Perception is NOT reality. I’ve said it time and again in these articles. Switzerland aren’t some tinpot team making up the numbers, but it works in their favour if people think that.

3 – Planning and executing is critical to the success of a team. Know what you are up against, keep to the plan, and don’t be distracted.

Switzerland had to deal with some very low standards of integrity from Neymar Brazil and it would have been easy to get frustrated, but they didn’t. They stuck at their task, worked hard, and matched Brazil in possession and control of the game. The did a great job of fighting and keeping up with a superior, but not dominant team. Well done, Switzerland.

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