One of the teams who could cause trouble for household names, Switzerland look set to advance as far as they can in the biggest and the most prestigious competition in the world of football, the World Cup.
Placed in group E, Die Nati, the nickname for the Switzerland national football team, led by captain Stephen Lichtsteiner, will go up against the likes of Brazil, Serbia, and Costa Rica, who all would not be an easy challenge for them.
Switzerland have participated in the World Cup 10 times already since 1934, which means the 2018 FIFA World Cup would be their 11th time.
Their best ever record in this event was in 1934, 1938, and 1954, where they managed to reach the quarter-finals and this year they would be looking to reach the same heights again as they did a long time ago.
Road to Russia
Switzerland managed to edge through the first round of the UEFA qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup by finishing as the runner-ups in group B, a group filled with teams like Portugal, Hungary, Faroe Islands, Latvia, and Andorra.
Vladimir Petkovic’s side qualified to the second round (playoffs) as the best runner-ups having collected 21 points from winning 7 games and losing only once.
They are then faced with North Ireland after the drawings for the playoffs round, but they rose up to the challenge though having to work hard to achieve a victory against the latter with the score of 1-0 over two legs.
Now, standing in group E alongside Brazil, Costa Rica, and Serbia, Vladimir Petkovic should prepare his side better to thrive in this group and in the World Cup itself.
Style of Play
Vladimir Petkovic is likely to deploy a 4-2-3-1 formation for his Switzerland team in the World Cup, a formation that Petkovic and his side have been familiar with and have used since the World Cup qualifiers.
This formation could easily change into a 4-3-3 offensive whenever they’re attacking the oppositions but could revert back to the original formation whenever they are trying to defend.
Vladimir Petkovic likes to rotate his team but we could see that Benfica striker Haris Seferovic is expected to be the main man in front, accompanied with Steven Zuber and Xherdan Shaqiri in the left and right wing respectively. But hot prospect Breel Embolo is also highly likely to play in the left wing instead of Zuber, but the latter would be expected to start more games.
In the central attacking midfield position, Remo Freuler is highly likely to occupy the post as an advanced playmaker, but Blerim Dzemaili could also be a good option.
The two defensive midfielders responsible for keeping the midfield solid would be occupied by Denis Zakaria and Granit Xhaka, while Valon Behrami could also replace any of those two. Gelson Fernandes could also be a backup. Xhaka was a relieved man after discovering that his knee injury in the training before the friendly against Spain around a week ago was merely a bruise on the knee, and he would be expected to return to the team before the World Cup starts and contribute a lot to the Swiss as the key player he is.
In the defence, Ricardo Rodriguez and Stephen Lichtsteiner will be the main players occupying the left and right back berth respectively. Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund centre-back Manuel Akanji and Deportivo La Coruna’s Fabian Schar could be playing as the main central defender duet. We are expecting Akanji to play instead of Johan Djourou despite the latter having much more international experience, but he is known for his proneness to errors.
Meanwhile, Yann Sommer would be expected to be the first choice goalkeeper, but Roman Burki could also replace him for the sake of rotation.
Switzerland are a team that is known for their dangerous quickfire counterattacks. They like to place emphasis on the wide side of the field when attacking.
Manager: Vladimir Petkovic
Vladimir Petkovic, a 54-year-old Bosnian-Herzegovinian football manager, has been at the helm of the Switzerland national football team since 1 July 2014 until now. He has a pretty impressive record with the Swiss, winning 25 games, drawing 7 times, while losing only 8 times, therefore boasting a winning record of 62.50% which is quite remarkable considering how strong and developed other national teams have become nowadays.
Petkovic would be expected to take Die Nati as far as possible in the World Cup, probably with the minimum of qualifying to the next round, but in a group filled with teams like Brazil, Costa Rica, and Serbia, we all know that would be a rather tough task.
Key Player: Granit Xhaka
Granit Xhaka caught the eyes of many football managers and scouts in the last edition of the World Cup as he helped Switzerland to a place in the elimination round, though his national team were not able to get past the round of 16 after being eliminated by Argentina after extra time. The Arsenal man is expected by many Swiss fans and football enthusiasts to replicate his form in Russia.
Aside from Xhaka, Stoke City winger Xherdan Shaqiri could also be a player to watch in the World Cup. The 26-year-old small-framed winger has been a vital part for his team, posing a threat to the opposition with his pace and creativity, though sometimes he looked like a one-trick pony, he still should not be a player any team could underestimate in this World Cup.
Both players could be the mainstay of the team throughout the 2018 FIFA World Cup as they are deemed indispensable players capable of bringing the team to the latter stages of the competition.
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