Switzerland achieved its first victory in the 2010 World Cup qualifying rounds on Saturday, and the Sunday papers breathe a sigh of relief.
"Victory at last!" says the tabloid Sonntagsblick on its front page. "With its 2:1 victory against Latvia, the Swiss team has come out of its vegetative state, although is still not too sure of itself."
But what the NZZ am Sonntag calls "the ghost of September 10" – in other words the Swiss defeat at the hands of tiny Luxembourg last month – not only hung over the game, but is still very much present in the match reports and comment columns.
Blick goes on to say: "The fiasco against Luxembourg has left too deep a mark. But the depression is over!"
A third German-language paper, Sonntag, picks up on this. It puns on the name of the Swiss captain, Alex Frei – which means "free" – describing the goal with which he opening the scoring as a "Be-frei-ung", or "liberation".
Although the Swiss dominated the first half of the match, they failed to score. It was not until the 63rd minute that Frei put the ball in the net – only for the Latvians to equalise a few minutes later.
Switzerland's second goal, by Blaise Nkufo in the 73rd minute, is described by several of the papers as the team's "salvation".
The NZZ am Sonntag describes the tension at the end of the first half when the score sheet was still blank, but goes on: "The Swiss kept their cool... and in the final stage played unconstrainedly, as if they had never been in chains".
Sonntag quotes Swiss captain Alex Frei as saying after the match that things were now back on track – or as the German has it: "We've got the cart out of the mud."
The Swiss coach Ottmar Hitzfeld is widely quoted as saying after the game: "It's nicer being here on the podium than it was against Luxembourg". But Blick adds another of Hitzfeld's comments: "In order to forget [Luxembourg], we need a few more victories".
A long way to go
It is clear to all the papers that although the Swiss are out of the woods for the moment, the path to the final in South Africa is still a long one.
A comment in Sonntag speaks of a "victory that had to be won" against "modest" Latvia, and says the match has left "a lot of questions". It warns that next Wednesday's game against Greece will pit the Swiss against a team of quite a different calibre.
"The trend of the last two and a half years is clear: Switzerland is a long way from the best teams in Europe," it says.
But Blick's comment column on the match is more upbeat, describing the electric atmosphere in the stadium. "From the very first minute the crowd was supporting the team, they felt that they had a role to play too," it says.
It admits that all the excitement will have been in vain unless Switzerland manages to get some points from its game against Greece. "Are we being too euphoric if we believe that after the achievement against Latvia this is perfectly possible?" it asks.
"Not everything went perfectly for the Swiss, but it was a perfect evening. Let's enjoy that."
swissinfo, Julia Slater
Qualifying Group Two
(after 3 games)
1. Greece 9 points
2. Israel 7
3. Switzerland 4
5. Luxembourg 3
4. Latvia 3
6. Moldova 0
Switzerland's next matches
March 28: Moldova - Switzerland
April 1: Switzerland - Moldova
September 5: Switzerland - Greece
September 9: Latvia - Switzerland
October 10: Luxembourg - Switzerland
October 14: Switzerland - Israel
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