Switzerland – World Cup 2014 – Group E

SWITZERLAND

15-June Ecuador (5pm GMT Brasilia)

20-June France (8pm GMT Salvador)

25-June Honduras (9pm GMT Manaus)

Unbeaten Switzerland qualified for the World Cup in impressive fashion. Possessing an abundance of talent and with a favourable draw, Frank Tigani believes the Swiss could make an impact in Brazil.

Coach: Ottmar Hitzfeld

After failing to take Switzerland to Euro 2012, Ottmar Hitzfeld turned to youth in order to build for the future and it paid off. The German has led Switzerland to the World Cup after going undefeated during qualifying. The much-heralded tactician, who won Champions League titles with Borussia Dortmund in 1997 and then again with Bayern Munich in 2001, will call it a day on his coaching career once the curtain comes down in Brazil. 

Why they could be dangerous

Switzerland are a team brimming with youthful vigour and promise. The hunger that comes with young players will make them a tricky test for any side. Their best young number is Kosovo-born Xherdan Shaqiri, whose creativity and tenacity will pose a real threat. Deep in midfield, Granit Xhaka and Gokhan Inler will make the Swiss a very hard side to break down. It should be noted too that Switzerland have only lost once in their last seven World Cup matches.

The world on his shoulders: Granit Xhaka

While Xherdan Shaqiri may be more recognizable due to the fact that he happens to play for Bayern Munich, many believe that it is Granit Xhaka who is actually Switzerland’s best player. Compared to Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger, the tall central midfielder has it all – tough in the tackle, composed on the ball and with an eye for goal. Currently at Borussia Monchengladbach, some big clubs are keeping tabs on him and a potential summer move to one of them beckons.  

Did you know?

In their first four World Cup appearances, Switzerland made it to the quarter-finals on three occasions. Not a bad record by any standard. Modern times have not been so kind however to the team known as the Rossocrociati. Yet, interestingly, before Spain began their march to World Cup glory in South Africa, the Swiss beat them in the opening round.

Country legend: Stephane Chapuisat

For 28 years Switzerland had failed to qualify for the World Cup. That was until Stephane Chapuisat came along. The then 24-year-old scored five goals during the qualifiers for USA 1994 to end the misery for his country’s long-suffering football fans. Best known for his exploits with Borussia Dortmund, whom he helped win the Champions League and two Bundesliga crowns, Chapuisat earned over 100 caps for his nation, scoring a total of 21 goals. 

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Not known for creating the most attractive sides, since switching to a 4-2-3-1 set-up Ottmar Hitzfield’s team are much more pleasing on the eye. That is at least when they have the ball. They remain a team built on stern defensive foundations – and solid they are as evidenced by their recent record of nine clean sheets in 14 matches. Still, when they do venture forward they can be devastatingly quick and effective.

Switzerland versus…

…Ecuador P0 W0 D0 L0 F0 A0

…France P36 W12 D9 L15 F62 A58

…Honduras P1 W0 D1 L0 F0 A0

Stats

Population: 8 million

World Cup appearances: 9

Best finish: Quarter-finals, 1934 and 1938

Famous for: Going 559 consecutive minutes without conceding a goal in World Cup Finals football across the 1994, 2006 and 2010 events – a competition record.

Top Division: Swiss Football League

How they got to the World Cup: Finished first in Europe Group E

FIFA World Ranking: 8

Last World Cup Appearance: South Africa 2010 – failed to progress past the group stage

Continental Honours:

Most Capped Player: Heinz Hermann (142 caps)

Leading International Scorer: Alexander Frei (42 goals)

Nickname: Rossocrociati – Red Crosses