World Cup Team Preview: Switzerland

Heading into the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a lofty ranking of sixth, Switzerland will look to prove that they can compete with the best in Russia.

Despite winning 27 out of a possible 30 points, the Swiss still finished second behind European champions Portugal in their World Cup qualifying campaign. Subsequently they had to face Northern Ireland in a play-off to book their spot, which they achieved thanks to a narrow 1-0 aggregate win.

After debuting at the second ever FIFA World Cup in 1934, it is Die Nati’s fourth successive tournament and 10th overall.

This year they will be looking to go beyond the quarter-finals for the first time having reached the last-eight on three occasions.

To do so, they will have to progress from Group E which comprises of five time winners Brazil, Serbia and Costa Rica.

Coach Vladimir Petkovic has picked just six new faces in his final 23-man squad to travel to Russia from the squad that he took to Euro 2016, opting for a mixture of youth and experience but at the same time maintaining continuity.

Captain Stephan Lichtsteiner is the oldest in the squad, aged 34 while Breel Embolo is the youngest at 21.

Petkovic has picked just one home based player, Michael Lang from FC Basel while the majority of the squad (10) ply their trade in the German Bundesliga.

Valon Behrami is set to become the first Swiss player to play at a record four World Cup Finals.

The Swiss will look to rely on experienced playmaker, Xherdan Shaqiri. Dubbed the Alpine Messi, the Stoke City forward’s contribution will be key if they are to progress from the group.

The team has proved that they are defensively sound as well, letting in just seven goals in the World Cup qualifiers and boast loads of experience in the Arsenal duo of, Granit Xhaka and Lichtsteiner.

The Swiss are based in Tolyatti, Samara and are being housed at arguably one of the best hotels in the country, the Tagliatti Resort. Petkovic’s side have a real chance of progressing from the group and know they must start well in their tournament openers against Brazil on 17 June at the Rostov Arena.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Yann Sommer (Borussia Monchengladbach), Roman Burki (Borussia Dortmund), Yvon Mvogo (RB Leipzig)

Defenders: Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Michael Lang (FC Basel), Ricardo Rodriguez (AC Milan), Jacques-François Moubandje (Toulouse), Manuel Akanji (Borussia Dortmund), Johan Djourou (Antalyaspor), Fabian Schar (Deportivo La Coruña), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Monchengladbach)

Midfielders: Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Valon Behrami (Udinese), Blerim Dzemaili (Bologna), Remo Freuler (Atalanta), Denis Zakaria (Borussia Monchengladbach), Gelson Fernandes (Eintracht Frankfurt), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City), Steven Zuber (Hoffenheim)

Forwards: Breel Embolo (Schalke 04); Haris Seferovic (Benfica), Mario Gavranovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Josip Drmic (Borussia Monchengladbach)

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