Their names don’t impress, and their World Cup background doesn’t matter, but the Swiss national team has achieved a regularity that makes them a contender capable of giving anyone a headache at the next World Cup in Qatar.
And anyone in the strict sense of the word, as it appeared in the last European Championship, from which it removed the current world champion France, or in the continental qualifiers with sending the defending European champion, Italy, to the qualifiers, which finally made it could not achieve your ticket to the Middle East.
Switzerland secured its twelfth appearance in the World Cup, its fifth in a row, without defeat after winning its region with Italy, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria and Lithuania. And on the penultimate day, they saved a 1-1 draw at the Olympic Stadium in Rome and reached the final round, even on points, with Azzurri. The subsequent home win against the Bulgarians (4-0), together with a 0-0 defeat of the Italians in Belfast, sealed their passport without going through the play-offs.
The campaign towards Qatar 2022 yielded five wins, three draws (two against Italy and one with Northern Ireland), 15 goals for and only two against.
Surprise? Partially yes, but not so much if one considers that a few months ago he was given the note in the last 16 of the Euros when they eliminated France on penalties with Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema and all their characters on the pitch.
In the next case, Helvic’s team did not pass the favorite Spain – seeded on the same fast track – and its exit from the tournament put an end to the course of Bosnian Vladimir Petkovic, who left the Girondins de Bordeaux.
The change of coach did not affect the reliable performance of Switzerland, and successor Murat Yakin, who arrived in August last year, managed to achieve the goal of qualifying in his seventh match, after only three months in his tenure.
Yakin, 48, brings more than a decade of experience as a coach in various clubs in his country (Thun, Lucerne, Basel, Schaffhausen, Grasshopper and Sion), in addition to a year of work in Spartak Moscow, where he directed Argentine Juan Manuel. Insuraldi, Alberto “Tino” Costa and Lucas Barrios.
Roger Federer’s friend, with whom he shares his homeland (Basel), the Swiss coach will have an experienced team in Qatar, with several members who already have experience playing in the World Cup.
The goal was defended by Jan Sommer (33), German Borussia Mönchengladbach. Fabian Scheer (30) from Newcastle, Manuel Akanji (27) from Manchester City and Torino winger Ricardo Rodriguez (33) usually stand in defence. Granit Xhaka (29) from Arsenal, Denis Zakaria (25) from Chelsea and Djibril Sow (25) from Frankfurt am Main stand out in midfield.
The most prominent player in the Swiss national team, who also holds the armband, is attacking midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri (30), who will play for the fourth time in the World Cup finals after presenting in South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018.
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