Switzerland 2014 World Cup – The country that hosts the home of the football organization will try to be Brazil’s surprise guest, with a group of raw talents this time, who knows how far “La squadra nationale” can reach?
A constant participant lately in the World Cup, with appearances in 2006 & 2010, the Swiss will try to demonstrate their growth and maturity this time and achieve what would be a surprise on the grand stage of football.
The Swiss never had a squad so blossoming with talent like the current one, they have a few names across the continent that caught the attention of Europe’s elite, if not even playing for them. Names like Shaqiri, Xhaka, Admir Mehmedi, Ricardo Rodriguez, Josip Drmic, Haris Seferovic & Innocent Emeghara are having a great seasons with their teams, add to those the names that play with Basel like Fabian Schar & Valentin Stocker & Yan Sommer, not too many teams across Europe have that amount of young talents coming through its ranks.
However, that doesn’t mean that the Swiss team lacks experience. The Napoli triad of Valon Behrami, Blerim Dzemaili & current captain Gokhan Inler are a reckoning force in the midfield, and goalkeeper Diego Benaglio can still provide competition for the uprising Sommer between the posts, and not to forget the flying wing/back of Juventus Stephan Lichtsteiner, who’s no doubt one of the best among his position.
The Defense has always been their weak point in major trophies, the likes of Arsenal ex-defenders Senderos & Djourou have always failed to perform, and Steve Von Bergen isn’t so reliable either. But with the rise of Fabian Schar, Ricardo Rodriguez & Timm Klose, things might change this time.
The other problem the Swiss always faced in big tournaments is the mentality they go into the tournament with, the “small” team mentality, unlike the qualifiers, where they always feel like the “bigger” team against the like of Slovenia, Iceland & Norway. With many of the players playing for big European teams, and Basel performing well on the European stage lately, a change of this mentality should be seen this time.
The wizard of Hitzfeld’s squad is Bayern’s Xherdan Shaqiri. With a strong left foot and great athleticism, the wing man when on his day is unstoppable, he may have suffered from irregularity of playing time and injuries at Bayern, but his irreplaceable for his national team.
Keep an eye also on Fabian Schar, the central defender has caught the attention of the likes of Inter, Chelsea & Real Madrid with his abilities and tactical awareness, he’s expected to be a starter in the finals instead of one of the error prone kings Djourou & Senderos.
Ottmar Hitzfeld or the “General” is one of the most successful coaches on the club’s level in Europe, a two times Champions League winner with Bayern & Dortmund, and seven times Bundesliga winner, he’s one of the greats of the game, but he hasn’t reached the same yet on the international level. He led the Swiss since 2008, and since then he managed to qualify them twice to the World Cup but failed to reach the Euros 2012.
He’s greatest achievement with the Swiss arguably is beating eventual World Cup winners Spain 2010 in their opening group game 0-1, surprisingly he failed to go through after a defeat to Chile & a goalless draw with the Honduras!
With a balanced group in hand with France, Ecuador & Honduras, They can manage to reach the 2nd round with no trouble, although they should give it a try for the first place, given France inconsistency to avoid the danger of playing the Argentinean team in the last 16. But anything farther than this would be quite a surprise.