Football fans everywhere will be able to recall Diego Maradona’s goal against England at the 1986 FIFA World Cup™, where he started a run on the halfway line before skipping past five defenders and slotting the ball into the net. Lionel Messi scored a similar goal for Barcelona a couple of weeks ago in the final of the Copa del Rey and in Canada there was very nearly another strike to go alongside those illustrious efforts.

In the 54th minute of Switzerland’s FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015™ match against Japan, Ramona Bachmann won the ball on the halfway line, dribbled past several defenders and burst into the box, where she took the ball around the goalkeeper and put herself in a position to shoot from an acute angle. It would have been Switzerland’s maiden tournament goal, but she slipped at the crucial moment and the chance was lost. “I was just going too fast,” a frustrated Bachmann told afterwards. The fact that Switzerland were unable to convert a number of presentable opportunities and ended up losing the match makes her moment of misfortune all the more painful.

The football world takes note
Despite making their Women’s World Cup debut, Switzerland had no difficulty adapting to the standard of play against the Nadeshiko and showed the kind of form that took them through their qualifying campaign. Against Japan it was clear that Bachmann is the Europeans’ driving force, constantly wanting the ball, linking up with team-mates or going for goal herself. “I try to get on the ball as often as possible,” Bachmann said. “I’m good in one-on-one situations and at creating chances so it’s only logical that I take the initiative going forward.”

Coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg singled out the 24-year-old for praise despite the team’s opening defeat. “We know that she’s a fantastic player and now the rest of the world knows it too,” said the tactician, who added that Bachmann was the most downbeat of all the squad in the changing room afterwards – an insight that reveals just how passionate the attacker is about the game.

Bachmann has scored 33 goals in 61 international outings and in Sweden, where - one short stint in the USA aside - she has played for the last eight years, she is often called “the female Messi”. Given recent events it would appear to be a fitting moniker. “Messi’s my role model,” Bachmann said. “I think he’s the best player there’s ever been. I watch all of his games. He’s so exceptional, it’s like he’s from another planet. Brazil’s Ronaldo used to by my idol but I’ve admired Messi since he started making a name for himself at Barcelona.” Accordingly, Bachmann also wears the number 10 shirt, just like Messi and Maradona. “I’ve always worn that number, I like it,” said Bachmann.

Six defeats from as many games
Bachmann earned her first senior international cap at the age of 17. And after participating at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cups in 2006 and 2010, Canada 2015 is her third outing at a global showdown, and an experience that tops them all: “The sense of anticipation before this tournament was huge. We want to enjoy it and have fun.”

Bachmann’s World Cup record leaves plenty of room for improvement, however: in the six games she has played so far she has finished on the losing side each time. Switzerland’s next assignment, against Ecuador on Friday 12 June, offers a chance to start making amends. The South Americans are also tournament debutants and suffered a painful 6-0 thrashing by Cameroon in their opening game. “If we play as we did against Japan then we’ll win,” Bachmann concluded. “We won’t have that much bad luck two games in a row.”