Factfile on Switerland who are in World Cup Group G:
Best World Cup performance: Quarter-finals in 1934, 1938 and 1954.
Other notable performances: Euro 2020 quarter-finalists.
FIFA ranking: 15.
Main clubs: FC Basel, Young Boys, FC Zurich, Grasshopper, Servette.
How they qualified: Winners of European qualifying Group C.
Coach: Murat Yakin, 48, was appointed in August last year to succeed Vladimir Petkovic, who had taken the team to the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 with a penalty shoot-out win over France along the way. Yakin, who has Turkish roots, was a defender who won 49 caps for Switzerland and notably played for Grasshopper and Basel. His brother Hakan also played for the ‘Nati’. Yakin has coached several Swiss clubs, winning two league titles with Basel. He also had a spell at Spartak Moscow in 2014/15. His Swiss side topped their qualifying group ahead of Italy.
Key player: Forward Breel Embolo, 25, has pace and power in abundance and is hoping to take his early-season form with him to Qatar after leaving Borussia Moenchengladbach for Monaco in the summer. Born in Cameroon, he will get the chance to face the country of his birth in Switzerland’s opening group game. Embolo moved to Europe with his mother as a boy and went on to start his footballing career at Basel, where he was given his debut by Yakin. A big-money move to Schalke in 2016 was marred by injuries but as long as he stays fit he could have a key role to play in Qatar.
Expectations and key players according to Craig King, Football Swiss:
“Expectations on the Swiss national team have been slowly growing with each passing tournament. The 2022 World Cup marks their fifth major tournament appearance in a row and their fourth successive World Cup finals. At first, reaching the Last 16 was the hope rather than expectation. Having achieved that in the last five major tournaments, that scenario is now expected. It is a difficult group for Switzerland, they find themselves in with familiar opponents in Brazil and Serbia, two teams they played in the group in 2018 and Cameroon, however, they have the quality to progress again. Of course, as shown at EURO 2020, they can beat anyone on their day. Last 16 will be the minimum aim, but a kind draw would give Switzerland a big chance of advancing to the quarter-finals again.”
“There is a core group of this squad that has been around since the first qualification in this run back in 2014. It is also the group of players that is probably most well-known like Sommer, Shaqiri and Xhaka. Other players include Breel Embolo who is the most in-form goalscorer right now and is having a fine season for Monaco. Noah Okafor is 22 and really talented, he provided big moments in the latest Nations League campaign and Ruben Vargas is another exciting talent who will be a big part of the team not just at this tournament but also in the future.”
November 24: Switzerland v Cameroon.
November 28: Brazil v Switzerland.
December 2: Serbia v Switzerland.
Goalkeepers: Yann Sommer (Borussia Moenchengladbach/GER), Jonas Omlin (Montpellier/FRA), Gregor Kobel (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Philipp Koehn (Salzbourg/AUT).
Defenders: Manuel Akanji (Manchester City/ENG), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Moenchengladbach/GER), Fabian Schär (Newcastle United/ENG), Eray Coemert (Valencia/ESP), Silvan Widmer (Mainz/GER), Edimilson Fernandes (Mainz/GER), Ricardo Rodriguez (Torino/ITA).
Midfielders: Remo Freuler (Nottingham Forest/ENG), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal/ENG), Djibril Sow (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER), Michel Aebischer (Bologna/ITA), Fabian Frei (Basel), Denis Zakaria (Chelsea/ENG), Christian Fassnacht (Young Boys), Fabian Rieder (Young Boys), Ardon Jashari (Lucerne), Renato Steffen (Lugano).
Strikers: Breel Embolo (Monaco/FRA), Haris Seferovic (Galatasaray/TUR), Xherdan Shaqiri (Chicago Fire/USA), Noah Okafor (Salzbourg), Ruben Vargas (Augsbourg/GER).
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