Switzerland: World Cup 2014 Team Preview
Goalkeepers: Diego Benaglio (Wolfsburg), Roman Buerki (Grasshopper), Yann Sommer (Basel).
Defenders: Johan Djourou (Hamburg), Michael Lang (Grasshopper), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Fabian Schaer (Basel), Philippe Senderos (Valencia), Steve von Bergen (Young Boys), Reto Ziegler (Sassuolo).
Midfielders: Tranquillo Barnetta (Eintracht Frankfurt), Valon Behrami (Napoli), Blerim Dzemaili (Napoli), Gelson Fernandes (Freiburg), Gokhan Inler (Napoli), Xherdan Shaqiri (Bayern Munich), Valentin Stocker (Basel).
Forwards: Josip Drmic (Nuremberg), Mario Gavranovic (Zurich), Admir Mehmedi (Freiburg), Haris Seferovic (Real Sociedad), Granit Xhaka (Borussia Monchengladbach).
Best Ever Finish: Quarterfinals (1934, 1938, 1954)
Captain: Gökhan Inler
Manager: Ottmar Hitzfeld
Switzerland’s qualifying campaign was as convincing as they come, topping the group whilst remaining unbeaten throughout.
Set to spring a possible surprise during the summer, Switzerland are something of an unknown entity outside of Europe.
Not too dissimilar to Belgium, they are young developing team looking to establish themselves amongst the elite.
Hitzfeld has fashioned a team comfortable both on and off the ball with a midfield containing remarkable work rate and industry. The trio of attacking midfield players that play behind the striker have a nice blend of intiricate and direct players. Plus, the double-pivot of Inler and Behrami provide the back four with an unyielding shielding presence.
The major concern is that they don’t have a proven goal scorer at the highest level. Centre-back Fabian Schaer was the teams top scorer in qualifying with three goals, which is a pretty damning inditement on their strikers. Although forward Josip Drmic looks as though he could be a real find for this team after he enjoyed a remarkably prolific season at Nurnberg.
Nonetheless this energetic outfit are well worth their place as one of the top seeds in the tournament. The group stage of the World Cup is a big step up from the qualifying group. But they have no fear and should play with freedom and vigour. Expect the Swiss to be one of the dark horses in the competition.
Key Player – Xherdan Shaqiri
Offensively, much of the Swiss hopes lie on the shoulders of Shaqiri. The Bayern Munich man a dynamic playmaker who is in and out of the first-team, but donning the Swiss jersey seems to bring out the best in him.
Shaqiri is a player not too dissimilar in style to his Bayern Munich teammate Arjen Robben. Left-footed, playing from the right-hand-side, much of his game is about beating his man, cutting inside and unleashing left-footed efforts towards goal.
He is still raw and still young, but the former Basel man has the talent to inspire this Swiss team to a few upsets this summer.