World Cup 2022 team preview: Switzerland hoping for repeat of 2018 in tricky Group G

Xhaka and co. will be confident of going far in Qatar.

Granit Xhaka, Switzerland

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Switzerland will be hoping their twelfth appearance at the World Cup marks a change in fortunes compared with recent tournaments.  Despite being ranked as high as fourth in the world as recently as 2017 and going into the last edition as the eighth best team, they have been knocked out in the Round of 16 in three of the last four, and even failed to advance to the knockout stage in 2010.

Few of the nation’s nine million population can boast of remembering the 1954 World Cup, where on home soil the team managed to make it to the quarter-finals. Perhaps Murat Yakin’s men can create history of their own this time in Qatar.

Our footy trader Peter Healy takes you through what to expect from the Group G side at the World Cup 2022.

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Switzerland World Cup 2022 qualifying record

The Swiss boasted an impressive unbeaten record on their way to gaining automatic qualification for these finals, finishing above European Champions Italy. After holding the Azzurri to a 0-0 draw in Basel early in the campaign, the return fixture saw a tense 1-1 game approaching the dying embers before Italy were awarded a penalty.

However, the usually prolific Jorginho missed and ensured that automatic qualification remained in Switzerland’s hands. On the final day, a 4-0 thumping of Bulgaria in front of a sell-out crowd in Lucerne ensured a fifth successive trip to the finals.

Who is the Switzerland manager?

Murat Yakin replaced Swiss Hero Vladimir Petkovic on August 9 2021 and faces a stiff challenge replicating the achievements of the most successful Swiss football manager in history. He has made a promising start by qualifying for these finals but his success will ultimately be judged on his performance in Qatar.

He formerly managed FC Basel whom he guided them to two domestic titles and an impressive semi-final appearance in the 2013 Europa League where they were eliminated by eventual winners Chelsea.

The former Swiss national team defender will be hoping that his side fare better than his sole appearance at a major tournament, where his team failed to win a game and were eliminated in the Group Stage at the 2004 European Championships in Portugal.

Murat Yakin, Switzerland manager

Switzerland World Cup squad

While initially adopting a 3-4-1-2 formation upon arrival, Yakin has begun to transition towards a more traditional set-up with four across the back which proved particularly successful in recent wins against Spain, Portugal and the Czech Republic in this season’s Nations League. 

Yann Sommer has been an ever-present between the sticks in recent years, and the full-back positions should be occupied by Silvan Widmer and the experienced Ricardo Rodriguez who will be making his third appearance in the World Cup. The squad boasts an impressive array of centre-backs including Man City’s Manuel Akanji, Nico Elvedi who plies his trade in Germany at Borussia Monchengladbach and Newcastle United’s Fabian Schar among others.

The midfield double-pivot picks itself with two Premier League workhorses in Granit Xhaka and Remo Freuler. The front four has been chopped and changed over the past six games as Yakin attempts to find his best system coming into these finals. Despite no longer playing in Europe, Chicago Fire’s Xherdan Shaqiri will be confident of finding a starting place. He can operate behind the main striker or in a wider position. Similarly, Yakin has often called upon Breel Embolo to provide pace and power from either a wide or central striker position. 

The final two forward positions will be up for grabs. Benfica target man Haris Seferovic and Augsburg’s speedy winger Ruben Vargas may be deployed in games against so-called weaker opposition such as Cameroon while Djibril Sow may be called upon to replace one of these attackers to bulk up the midfield in games against Brazil and Serbia.

  • Goalkeepers: Gregor Kobel, Philipp Kohn, Jonas Omlin, Yann Sommer
  • Defenders: Manuel Akanji, Eray Comert, Nico Elvedi, Ricardo Rodriguez, Fabian Schar, Silvan Widmer
  • Midfielders: Granit Xhaka, Edimilson Fernandes, Fabian Frei, Remo Freuler, Ardon Jashari, Fabian Rieder, Xherdan Shaqiri, Djibril Sow, Renato Steffen, Denis Zakaria, Michel Aebischer
  • Forwards: Breel Embolo, Christian Fassnacht, Noah Okafor, Haris Seferovic, Ruben Vargas

Switzerland Key Player

It’s hard to look past Granit Xhaka who has found some resurgence at Arsenal under Mikel Arteta. Stripped of the captaincy by former manager Unai Emery and directing some unpleasant words towards the Gooners crowd, Xhaka’s days looked numbered in an Arsenal shirt.

His breaking up of play alongside Freuler and ball retention in midfield will prove crucial in big games against Brazil and Serbia, particularly the former where they are likely to see less of the ball. A natural leader of this Swiss group, Xhaka’s performances will prove integral for the success of his side.

One to Watch

One only needs to type in ‘Fabian Schar goal’ into YouTube to understand that Fabian Schar is not your conventional centre-back. Indeed, Ireland fans may remember his cultured finish in the 1-1 draw at the Aviva Stadium that any top-class striker would have been proud of. 

Blessed with great athleticism and superb technical ability, he is of the modern generation of centre halves capable of bringing the ball out from the back and making eye-catching long diagonal balls. He will have his work cut out for him against the magicians of Brazil, weaving their way in and out of the Swiss defence. However, do not be shocked if he produces one of the tournament’s memorable moments with another wonderstrike.

Switzerland World Cup Prospects

Switzerland haven’t reached the quarter-finals of a World Cup since 1954, and will be looking to reverse those recent misfortunes in this tournament. In a group with tournament favourites Brazil, it’s hard to see them topping Group G. Despite this, a win in their opening game against Cameroon should leave a tasty shoot-out between themselves and Serbia in their final group game.

These two nations similarly faced each other in the Group Stage of the 2018 World Cup where a late Xherdan Shaqiri winner put Switzerland in pole position to land qualification from the group. With potentially even more riding on this one, expect some fireworks! A finish in the runners-up position would leave them facing the winner of Group H containing Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea. Should they face Group H favourites Portugal in the Round of 16, Switzerland will be confident of going toe-to-toe with Cristiano Ronaldo & Co. following their recent 1-0 win over them in the Nations League.

Don’t be surprised if this Swiss side does what hasn’t been seen in a generation and achieve national glory by advancing to the quarter-finals.

Switzerland World Cup betting tips

Having made it out of a group containing both Brazil and Serbia at the 2018 World Cup, Switzerland will enter this tournament confident of repeating the same feat. A potential Round of 16 showdown with likely Group H winners Portugal is a tough ask given the array of talent at their disposal, however, the Swiss will be quietly confident buoyed given recent results. Their Round of 16 win against France in last summer’s Euros means they know they are capable of beating the big boys in the latter stages of the tournament. SWITZERLAND TO REACH THE QUARTER-FINALS.

13/5
Switzerland To Reach Quarter Finals

Switzerland World Cup Winner Odds

80/1
Switzerland World Cup 2022 Winner

Switzerland World Cup 2022 Fixtures

November 24, 10am: Switzerland v Cameroon (ITV)

November 28, 4pm: Brazil v Switzerland (ITV)

December 2, 7pm: Serbia v Switzerland (ITV)

CLICK BELOW FOR TEAM PREVIEWS ON SWITZERLAND’S GROUP G RIVALS

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

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