Switzerland 1-1 Germany, St. Jakob-Park
(Widmer 58′ — Gündogan 14′)

In the end, it could — and probably should — have been worse for Germany. Just like against Spain on Thursday, Löw’s side couldn’t build on their advantage, with a lack of creativity and cutting edge the missing ingredients for this second-string Germany team. There were defensive concerns too.

While they’re billed as competitive fixtures, these Nations League games are mainly a chance for Löw to evaluate which of his peripheral players might be able to complement his options when his A-Listers return. Robin Gosens is probably the biggest individual winner following his first two games for Germany, which saw him fit in seamlessly to an attacking left-back role and offer Löw a genuine alternative to RB Leipzig’s Marcel Halstenburg on the left side.

Beyond Gosens though, the likes of PSG pair Julian Draxler and Thilo Kehrer did little in the two games to convince Löw to promote them to his favoured XI. Leroy Sane was also a long way off his best, although he is still returning to fitness following a lengthy lay-off. Nonetheless, these two games have served mainly as a reminder that Germany cannot do without the likes of Joshua Kimmich, Serge Gnabry and Manuel Neuer. And both results, while far from disastrous, will do little to quell talk of a recall for the exiled Thomas Müller.

Nations League: Schweiz - Deutschland Draxler (picture-alliance/dpa/C. Charisius)

Julian Draxler was one of several fringe players given a chance by Germany coach Joachim Löw.

As on Thursday, Germany scored the first goal in Basel. This time Ilkay Gündogan’s silky strike broke the deadlock, as the Manchester City midfielder’s precise first-time shot found the bottom corner after Matthias Ginter’s persistence was rewarded with the assist.

Germany showed greater hunger to close out this game than their previous one, but again, they let the lead slip. Niklas Süle, still feeling his way back to sharpness after a serious knee injury, looked sluggish against Switzerland’s sharp lone striker Haris Seferovic, who hit a post and was the hosts‘ main goal threat. Süle was eventually withdrawn.

The deserved equalizer came from an unlikely source though. Swiss right-back Silvan Widmer met Breel Embolo’s direct run and cross, and struck a sweet shot into the bottom corner. Bernd Leno, making his first Germany appearance in almost three years, was powerless to stop it — but Germany’s defense could have done more. Switzerland carved out enough further chances to feel like they should have won it.

With so many key players missing it’s hard to read too much into two disjointed displays. However, Löw will be quietly disappointed that more of his fringe players didn’t make a greater impression.

As it happened:

90’+3 FT Switzerland 1-1 Germany — It’s all over and it’s another 1-1 for Germany. Gündogan’s first half strike was canceled out by Widmer’s leveler, and it could have been worse for Germany. Not a bad performance but a lack of creativity and firepower has cost them a better result. Switzerland will be disappointed they didn’t win it.

90′ Xhaka could and maybe should have scored but he plants his header wide at the far post. Unmarked and unchallenged, the Arsenal man really should have done better.

86′ Chance for Switzerland as Steffen’s dangerous low cross finds Vargas, who darts ahead of Rüdiger at the near post and attempts to flick the ball into the corner. It goes just wide, but alarm bells were ringing for Germany again.

84′ Close! Xhaka draws a good save out of Leno low to his left with a fizzing free-kick that was headed for the bottom corner. Germany better be careful they don’t lose this one…

78′ Germany sub: Can on, Gosens off.

76′ A couple more Germany subs warming up…

73′ Embolo has taken a hit here. He will require some treatment.

67′ Slick counter-attack by Switzerland almost results in a big chance, but Embolo’s low cross was crucially cut out by Tar.

63′ Germany sub: Tar on, Süle off.

62′ Werner cuts in from the left but his shot was always ambitious, and Sommer is unchallenged.

59′ Xhaka looks to add a quick second with a piledriver that swooshes over the top.

58′ GOAL! Switzerland 1-1 Germany — Widmer equalizes! Switzerland are level and the goal comes from an unlikely source, right-back Silvan Widmer. Embolo created the chance by cutting in from the left and rolling it to the FC Basel man, who finds the bottom corner with a sweet strike.

54′ Another chance for Draxler but he can’t quite bring the ball under his spell and Switzerland hack it to safety.

53′ Draxler’s strike whistles just past the post, as Germany continue their strong start to the second half.

51′ Promising break by Germany as Kroos feeds Gosens down the left, but his dangerous cross is cut out just before it reaches Werner.

48′ Sow almost muscles his way into a shooting position, but Rüdiger stands firm to get in the way and snuff out the danger.

Fußball: Nations League 2020 I Schweiz - Deutschland (picture-alliance/dpa/GES/Pool/M. Gilliar)

Djibril Sow of Eintracht Frankfurt is one of six Switzerland starters to ply their trade in the Bundesliga.

46′ SECOND HALF — We are back underway. One change for Germany, with Brandt replacing Sane.

45′ HT Switzerland 0-1 Germany — Germany lead at the break through Gündogan’s fine strike. Switzerland have created chances though, especially towards the end of the half with Seferovic the danger man.

43′ Xhaka has a go from way out but it’s a good dipping effort that Leno has to tip over. 

42′ Post! Seferovic latches on to Steffen’s through ball, palms off Süle, and hits the outside of the near post with a tidy first-time shot. Again Germany are opened up, and again Seferovic is the man most likely to inflict the damage.

39′ It opens up for Embolo to have a go from distance, but his shot sails over the top.

38′ Chance at the other end for Werner as the ball pops up for him invitingly, but the Chelsea striker can’t keep his volley down.

35′ Close for Switzerland as Seferovic engineers some space 25 meters out and his dangerous shot flicks off Ginter and loops just over the bar for a corner, but Germany deal with the ball in. Seferovic doing good work as the target man, and his movement is causing a few problems too.

33′ Nice move by the Swiss but Embolo is just offside as he receives a through ball.

31′ Chance for Germany as Draxler receives Werner’s cross from the left but hits it straight at Sommer, who gets up quickly and saves from Sane on the rebound, but the Bayern man was offside anyway.

30′ Embolo is body checked by Süle as Switzerland were launching a counter-attack. The Swiss get the free-kick but Süle is lucky not to get his name taken by referee Michael Oliver. 

28′ Chance for Switzerland but Seferovic misses his kick from close range. Otherwise it would have been a definite goal for Switzerland. Let-off for Germany, who were opened up quite easily with the long ball.

23′ Sow goes for goal from a long way out with a powerful drive, but Leno always had it covered as it flies wide.

21′ Gosens and Kehrer are getting forward a lot for Germany, and they seem to be overwhelming Switzerland in those areas. This was the experimenting Löw was talking about.

17′ Germany looking more assured and confident than on Thursday against Spain. Playing with more purpose and have already created a couple of openings. Switzerland struggling to make an impression in possession.

14′ GOAL! Switzerland 0-1 Germany — Gündogan scores! Germany take the lead and it’s a fine strike by Ilkay Gündogan. Ginter battles well to stab the ball back to Gündogan, and the Manchester City midfielder guides a lovely low first-time shot into the bottom corner.

10′ Widner heads over from a free-kick as Switzerland create their first chance of the game.

7′ First chance of the game falls to Sane, who shifts the ball onto his right foot and hammers a low shot at goal, but Sommer gets down well to make the stop.

4′ Sane feeds Kehrer in a dangerous area but the pass was just a little too close to Rodriguez, who makes the slide tackle on the PSG man.

2′ A good interception by Süle high up the field creates a chance for Kroos, but his shot from distance is blocked.

1′ KICK OFF — We’re off!

20:35 Home from home

Interestingly, Switzerland’s starting XI features twice as many Bundesliga players — six — as Germany’s. Only Ginter, Süle and Sane ply their trade in Germany.

20:25 In from the cold

It’s been a long time in the international wilderness for Bernd Leno. It’s tough getting a game in goal for Germany with Manuel Neuer and Marc-andre ter Stegen ahead in the pecking order, but the Arsenal goalkeeper finally gets another chance for Die Nationalmannschaft, almost three years after his last game.

20:15 — Time for a Müller u-turn?

Germany captain tonight, Toni Kroos, understands the clamour for Thomas Müller to be recalled to the national team but thinks Joachim Löw will instead help the likes of Kai Havertz — unavailable tonight — flourish. Müller, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng were told in 2019 that they would no longer be considered for Germany. But Bayern Munich’s Müller, 30, was the top assist maker in the Bundesliga last season as his side won the treble.

“My feeling tells me that Jogi Löw doesn’t go back on things,” midfielder Kroos said in an interview with Bild am Sonntag.

20:05 — Learning curve

Germany are in Switzerland looking to get their first win of this Nations League campaign, having been denied with almost the last kick of the game by Spain on Thursday. Löw’s side will be looking to take the lessons from that result, which saw Germany spurn chances to kill the game off — only to be stung in the tail.

“We go into the game with the intention of getting three points, that’s quite clear,” Löw said on Saturday. “For me it is also a game where I say we can learn something, where we can take something with us. We can also try something there.”

19:55 — Arrival

The teams have arrived at St. Jakob-Park in Basel…

19:45 — Team news!

The teams are in, and let’s start with Germany…

Joachim Löw makes two changes from the team that started against Spain on Thursday. Leno comes in for Trapp in goal while Ginter starts ahead of Can.

The hosts line up like this. A few familiar faces from the Bundesliga, past and present.

Welcome

Hello and welcome to DW’s buildup and live coverage of Germany’s second game of this Nations League campaign against Switzerland.

After a 10-month, coronavirus-enforced break, international football returned on Thursday as Germany faced Spain in Stuttgart. Timo Werner put the hosts ahead on his return to his hometown, but a 96th-minute equalizer denied Germany all three points.

Joachim Löw’s side now make the short trip to Basel to face Switzerland, who lost 2-1 away to Ukraine in their opener.

Press conference

Löw and Leroy Sane faced the media on Saturday evening, with Löw confirming that there are “no major injuries” following the Spain game, that “everyone is fit for tomorrow” and that “Bernd Leno will start in goal.” Kevin Trapp therefore will drop to the bench.

Löw also said the Nations League poses something of a balancing act. “The Nations League is a good competition with tough opponents playing at a high level,” he said. “But, for me, these are also games in which we can try new ideas and learn.”

As for Sane, who appeared to be suffering from cramp toward the end on Thursday, the new Bayern Munich signing insisted he is fine. “I feel great and I’m happy to be back on the pitch after my injury,” he said.

Joachim Löw (picture-alliance/dpa/C. Charisius)

Joachim Löw is faced with a delicate balancing act in a congested season

Old neighbors

Germany have played Switzerland 51 times previously, more than any other nation, and they’ve won on 36 of those occasions — an impressive 70.6% win rate.

The vast majority of those games, however, have been friendlies; this will be only the sixth competitive meeting between the two neighbors.

One has to go back to May 2012 for the last meeting when Switzerland, coached by Ottmar Hitzfeld, won 5-3 in a dramatic friendly. The German goal scorers in Basel that evening: Mats Hummels, Andre Schürrle and Marco Reus.

Jogi’s backyard — almost

Hailing from Germany’s Black Forest region on the border with Switzerland, Löw is a familiar face in the Alpine republic, where he lived for six years at the end of his playing career in the early 1990s.

Before completing most of his coaching badges in Switzerland, he also briefly ran a tie business in the country — significantly less successfully than his later role as Bundestrainer.

“Many of my former teammates are still close friends with whom I still keep in contact,” he told Swiss tabloid Blick recently. “That’s not always the case, but these contacts have never broken off.”

Team news

Sunday’s game is the second of eight internationals between now and the end of November, a marathon run of home-and-away Nations League ties against Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine, plus friendlies against Turkey (October 7) and the Czech Republic (November 11).

Löw will be therefore forced to rotate, as he did against Spain on Thursday, when Bayern Munich’s Champions League winners were all afforded an extended break.

Other candidates for a rest include Toni Kroos, who played the full 96 minutes against Spain, and Leroy Sane, who pulled up with cramp on his return after a 15-month injury layoff. “Everyone was gasping for breath,” admitted goal scorer Timo Werner.

Löw has already said he will “bring in some fresh legs,” referring potentially to midfielder Julian Brandt — an ideal replacement for Kai Havertz who is unavailable due to quarantine regulations after leaving the squad to complete his move to Chelsea.

Niklas Süle has also only recently returned from a knee injury and could foreseeably be replaced by Matthias Ginter in the starting XI.

Questions, questions, questions

Löw is seemingly well aware of the quandaries facing him, and he posed the questions himself on Saturday:

“How will we start? What changes do we want to make? Where is the risk of injury to a player who hasn’t played for a while? We have to pay attention.”