Euro 2020: What happened when Switzerland last made it so far – and why you should watch to the end

Around 250,000 people turned off the TV after France scored to make it 3-1, meaning they missed one of the best performances in Swiss football history.

Euro 2020: What happened when Switzerland last made it so far - and why you should watch to the end
Two players clash at the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland. Photo: AFP

Switzerland might be a passionate football nation, but as a small country surrounded by footballing powerhouses like Germany, Italy and of course France, there’s a tendency to be a tad pessimistic. 

Official viewing figures showed that just over 250,000 people turned off their TV sets after France’s Paul Pogba scored to make it 3-1, seemingly giving the Swiss little hope of a comeback. 

According to Swiss media outlet 20 Minutes, only one third of those who switched off actually turned the TV back on to see the greatest comeback in Swiss footballing history. 

The emotional rollercoaster was symbolised by the contrasting images of this Swiss super fan, who has since come to worldwide fame after his reactions went viral. 

‘Overwhelmed’: Unaware Swiss super fan stunned about viral fame

What happened the last time Switzerland went far in an international tournament? 

It might not surprise you to learn that the last time the Swiss national side went far in a men’s tournament they were at home – although you may be surprised to learn that it was almost 70 years ago. 

It took place as Switzerland hosted the World Cup in 1954. The final saw West Germany surprisingly triumph over the heavily favoured Ferenc Puskas and the Hungarian national side 3-2 in what became known as the Miracle of Bern. 

The Swiss team managed to make it through to the quarter finals, but were bounced out 7-5 by Austria (no penalties) in a match with the most goals in world cup history. 

‘We don’t like France, Germany or Italy’: How linguistic diversity unites Swiss football fans

How will Switzerland go tonight? 

Switzerland are hoping to take another major scalp at Euro 2020 when they face Spain in the quarter-finals on Friday while Belgium sweat over the fitness of star duo Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne for their heavyweight clash with Italy in Munich.

The Swiss qualified for their first major tournament quarter-final since 1954 with a stunning win on penalties over reigning world champions France in Bucharest on Monday, and Vladimir Petkovic’s side are now hoping to get the better of another European powerhouse in Spain.

“We need to be hungry to make it to the next round,” said Petkovic, who is without his captain Granit Xhaka, so impressive against France but suspended here.

Spain arrived in Saint Petersburg fresh from a remarkable 5-3 extra-time win over Croatia in the last 16, a result which followed a 5-0 thumping of Slovakia in their final group game.

The 2008 and 2012 European champions are building momentum as they look to claim a record fourth continental title altogether, but Spain coach Luis Enrique knows all about the threat posed by the Swiss.

The sides met twice in the UEFA Nations League late last year, including in a dramatic 1-1 draw in which goalkeeper Yann Sommer, Switzerland’s penalty shoot-out hero against France, saved two spot-kicks from Sergio Ramos.

“The luck that we have, or the misfortune, is that we know each other very well,” Luis Enrique said on Thursday. “They are one of the best collectives in the tournament.”

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IN PICTURES: Runners take on Swiss glacier race despite melt

Hundreds of runners braved a lung-busting ascent into the Alps in Switzerland's Glacier 3000 Run on Saturday, albeit on a shortened course due to summer heatwaves melting the ice.

IN PICTURES: Runners take on Swiss glacier race despite melt

The event’s 14th edition was back without limitations after being cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19 and run in 2021 with restrictions imposed due to the pandemic.

The race is normally run over 26.2 kilometres but was contested on a slightly modified 25.2km course this year due to the glacier melting, with the last pass over its surface shortened.

Runners make their way under a ski lift  on the glacier run in Switzerland

Runners make their way under a ski lift during the last kilometres of the Glacier 3000 run. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

“The accelerated melting of the top layer of the glacier has created a camber and a soft layer which the runner sinks into,” said race director Oliver Hermann.

“Rather than intervening to flatten the track, we preferred to deviate the course.”

Runners on last stretch of Switzerland's glacier run

On the final stretch of this year’s shortened course. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

The finish line is 1,886 metres higher than the start, at nearly 3,000 metres up in the mountains by the Scex Rouge peak.

READ ALSO: Heatwaves close off classic Swiss and Italian Alpine hiking routes

The route begins in the jet-set ski resort town of Gstaad, at 1,050 metres above sea level.

It passes through forests, green mountain pastures before heading into rocky lunar-like landscapes and taking in the Tsanfleuron Glacier.

The course follows the Saane river upstream for 15 km before climbing up 1,800 metres over the remaining 10 km to the finish line — at an altitude of 2,936 metres.

A couple hold their hands while walking on the melting Tsanfleuron Glacier above Les Diablerets

A couple hold hands while walking on the melting Tsanfleuron Glacier above Les Diablerets, where the Glacier 3000 Run took place on August 6th. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

Some 311 men and 98 women completed the individual course, while 50 two-person teams also took part.

READ ALSO: Why Switzerland’s glaciers are melting faster than usual this summer

The first man to finish was Kenyan competitor Geoffrey Ndungu in two hours and 17 minutes. He had finished in second place last year.

He was followed by compatriot Abraham Ebenyo Ekwam in 2:21 and then Switzerland’s Jonathan Schmid in 2:23.

Victoria Kreuzer was the first woman to finish, in 2:46, ahead of Nicole Schindler and Pascale Rebsamen — a Swiss clean sweep.