Germany, a tough but viable opponent for Switzerland – rts.ch

Germany, a tough but viable opponent for Switzerland – rts.ch
Germany, a tough but viable opponent for Switzerland – rts.ch

Switzerland faces Germany this afternoon in Ostrava for its quarter-final of the 2024 World Cup (live on RTS 2 from 4:10 p.m.). If last year’s unfortunate finalists seem less impressive than in 2023, Harold Kreis’ squad remains a tough opponent for the Helvetii.

Opposing Germany in a knockout match inevitably awakens certain traumas in the minds of many Swiss hockey fans. The Helvetii have in fact seen their tournaments stop four times against the Mannschaft in the last 14 years (in the quarter-finals of the 2010, 2021 and 2023 World Cup, as well as in the round of 16 of the 2018 Olympics).

After dominating Switzerland last year (3-1) in Riga, Germany got rid of the USA again in the semi-finals (4-3 after extra time) before failing against Canada (5-2) to win a nevertheless historic silver medal, which adds to that obtained at the 2018 Olympic Games for what constitutes his best results since 1953.

Stability compared to 2023

From the finalist team in Tampere and Riga, 14 players lined up again in Prague and Ostrava 12 months later. Among them, the attackers Maximillian Kastner (Munich), John Peterka (Buffalo) and Nico Sturm (San Jose), executioners of Switzerland in the quarter-finals, but also the Zougois Marc Michaelis and the Bernese Dominik Kahun.

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A guarantee of stability which allowed the Germans to finish in third place in group B this year and to qualify calmly, only losing against Sweden (5-1) and the USA (6-1) at the start of tournament. They also signed two “cards” against Latvia (8-1) and Kazakhstan (8-2). Harold Kreis’ team certainly appears slightly weaker than last year, but it seems quite capable of causing problems for Switzerland.

A power play that works

The Mannschaft, for example, has three players among the fifteen best points scorers in the tournament: John Peterka, Leonhard Pfoderl and Yasin Ehliz, who all have 9 points. Particularly sharp offensively, Germany has the best shooting efficiency (16.6%), but also the best power play (35.3%), just ahead of… Switzerland (32.3%). The Swiss box-play, suffering greatly during the preliminary round (66.7%), will therefore have a major challenge to take up in the quarters.

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In terms of goalkeepers, if Mathias Niederberger, who was the misfortune of the Swiss attackers in Riga, is present this year, he shares the net with Seattle goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer, author of a relatively average World Cup so far (89 .1% saves and 3.2 goals conceded per match), even though he was not included in the defeat against the USA. Within Patrick Fischer’s squad, Leonardo Genoni displays much better statistics (92.4% and 1.5 goals conceded per match).

Leaders under pressure

In other words, if Switzerland has every interest in being wary of the German offensive, its own strike force could well hurt a rearguard that has not been free from any reproaches since the start of the tournament.

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The usual leaders Roman Josi (11 points), Kevin Fiala (10), Nico Hischier (10) and Nino Niederreiter (6) will obviously be expected at the turn when the team will need them the most. Unless of course the spark comes from one of these famous shadow heroes, as is regularly the case in a knockout match.

And there is no doubt that within the Swiss team as well as its public, the names of the scorers will ultimately matter little if there is qualification for the semi-finals to be celebrated around 6:45 p.m.

From Ostrava, Bastien Trottet – @BastienTrottet

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