Switzerland are ambitious and could pose a huge threat to disrupt the ambitions of some elites along the road in Qatar.
The World Cup is a huge platform to showcase progress for teams who tend to remain on the periphery of the elites. Winning trophies is generally the embodiment of success, but in the modern game, that’s only part of it. Only some sides are blessed with players who can change the game with a whip of their feet, but some build towards disrupting the top order.
Switzerland is one team on the right path that has worked hard in the last few years. Their UEFA Euro 2020 performances will remain the benchmark as they enter the Qatar World Cup in high spirits. But it could have been a better year for the Swiss to consider themselves ready for the challenge.
Murat Yakın 📸 pic.twitter.com/Y33ElIhxyA
— TRT Spor (@trtspor) November 18, 2022
They lost five games at the start of 2022, and many questioned their credentials for the World Cup later in the year. However, their astute revival has included wins over Portugal and the Czech Republic on home soil and a famous victory in Spain. It sets them right for a formidable challenge in Qatar.
Switzerland are grouped with Brazil, Cameroon, and Serbia. Group G looks challenging for all four teams, but more so for the Swiss, who want to continue their good showing at Euro 2020 to go deep in Qatar. Here, we look at their chances from this stage and where they might end their journey.
World Cup Group G analysis
Brazil have finished as group winners in their last ten World Cup campaigns. They remain the favourites to do so again and also win the tournament. However, the other teams, Serbia, Switzerland, and Cameroon, all come in with the chance to finish second.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) October 26, 2022
Cameroon are always an outsider when it comes to the World Cup. However, Serbia are no pushovers, as they come to Qatar with a few formidable players that could hurt the top order. While there is no need to explain what Brazil can bring, Switzerland have shown they can disrupt the usual order.
On paper, it is rather tight between Switzerland and Serbia as the favourites to finish second. Positive results in the early games could prove vital for both sides. However, the Swiss have the luck of the fixture list on their side. And if things go their way, Murat Yakin’s side could have momentum on their side.
Murat Yakin’s squad has enough experience to stand tall against formidable opposition. However, they lack reliable goalscorers to hurt teams confidently. Some players could form a battling unit to keep their shape and churn results.
Unsere 26 Spieler für die WM
Nos 26 joueurs pour la Coupe du Monde
I nostri 26 giocatori per il Mondiale
Noss 26 giuveders per la WM@FIFAWorldCup #squad #aufgebot #sélection #convocazione#natimiteuch #lanatiavecvous #lanaticonvoi pic.twitter.com/hqja5jsKvw
— 🇨🇭 Nati (@nati_sfv_asf) November 9, 2022
To solve the goalscoring problem, Switzerland have the likes of Haris Seferovic, Breel Embolo, and Noah Okafor. Barring Seferovic, the other two can play in wide areas. They also have Xherdan Shaqiri, who could provide the creative spark in this side, otherwise stacked with static players.
The midfield is clearer, as Yakin has Granit Xhaka and Denis Zakaria as his preferred choice. Switzerland either play a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1, depending on the opposition, but Yakin likes to keep things on the attacking side.
At the back, they have experienced duo Fabian Schar and Manuel Akanji, with Yann Sommer guarding the goal. Switzerland has enough players to go into the knockout stages. However, beyond that, factors such as suspension, fatigue, and injuries could play a major role. Even if they miss a few players, sides can hurt them as they tend to lose their shape.
Players to Watch
Granit Xhaka & Noah Okafor
Two players on different ends of their careers are set to lead Switzerland. We all know about Xhaka, whose performances for Arsenal this season could prove useful in Switzerland’s endeavour in Qatar. The experienced midfielder has played a slightly advanced role under Mikel Arteta, although he could continue sitting deep for his national side.
He offers tremendous security and leadership on the pitch, something Switzerland have come to value in recent times. Xhaka is by far the most important player for Switzerland and will carry the burden of success on his broad shoulders.
As for Okafor, he is a young striker making a solid mark at Red Bull Salzburg. The 22-year-old will have a point to prove as some big clubs, notably Arsenal, are looking at him ahead of January. While he may not be an automatic starter yet for the Swiss national side, Okafor could prove a valuable asset off the bench and can play in all three front positions.
How deep can Switzerland go in Qatar?
That is a question most teams are asking themselves. Switzerland may not have the deepest squads, but they have the talent and experience to see through at least the Round of 16 or quarter-finals. Yakin hopes to do one better and reach the semis, but it won’t be easy.
Switzerland have the most quarter-final appearances without reaching the semis, and it may be time to balance the act. They start their campaign against Cameroon, a must-win for Yakin. That result could give the Swiss a free hit against Brazil, as they could play with less pressure.
A positive result against Brazil could allow Switzerland to go confidently against Serbia and look to seal a place in the Last 16. It’s all predictions at this stage, but Switzerland have the credentials to make a difference and disrupt the order of things in Qatar. Will they do it that way? That is another question the coming weeks would answer.