In World Cup qualification, Switzerland was placed in the group with Italy, the winners of the 2020 Euros. It was a tough challenge, but the Swiss overcame it, topping the group and earning a spot in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Major Tournament Success
After qualifying for the World Cup only once between 1970 and 2002, Switzerland has become a staple in the tournament. They have competed in the last four, making it out of the group stage in three.
They struggled in the Euros, not making it out of the group stages in 2004 and 2008 and missing the whole tournament in 2012. However, Switzerland had one of their most successful tournaments ever in the 2020 Euros.
They made it to the quarterfinals, losing to Spain on penalty kicks. It was the deepest run for the national team since they lost in the quarterfinals in the 1954 World Cup. After just barely making it out of the group stage, they beat defending World Cup champions France in a penalty shootout after regular time ended 3-3.
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Core Group Within the Squad
Switzerland’s roster heading into the World Cup has a chance to feature three players with over 100 caps for their country and four who rank in the top 10 all-time. The two most prominent names from that list are captain Granit Xhaka and vice-captain Xherdan Shaqiri.
These two have played 213 combined games for Switzerland since getting called up in 2010 and have been massive parts of the success. At 30 years old, Shaqiri, who is now in MLS, has seen a drop in his play, but Xhaka is only getting better. He has been with Arsenal since 2016, often at odds with the fans due to his emotional style of play. However, he has reinvented himself into a leader and a driving force of Arsenal’s attack as the club is atop the English Premier League.
Goalie Yann Sommer, who was spectacular in the 2020 Euros, is the leader of a veteran backline. Ricardo Rodriguez and Fabian Schär are the elder statesmen, but talent is coming up the ranks in Manuel Akanji and Nico Elvedi.
In attack, Switzerland does have some question marks. While 25-year-old Breel Embolo and Ruben Vargas, 24, have been steady names in the starting 11, Haris Seferovic has been moved to more of a bench role. Seferovic ranks eighth nationally in all-time scoring.
Familiarity Within Group G
Switzerland was drawn into Group G alongside Brazil, Cameroon, and Serbia. It is almost the identical group that Switzerland was in for the 2018 World Cup, except for Cameroon. Even though the last World Cup was over four years ago, Switzerland still has some familiarity with the teams within the group. Brazil is the favorite to win the World Cup odds, making it a very challenging group. Switzerland will need to fight for second place to move out of the group stage.
Pulling off the Spectacular
As it stands right now, Switzerland has the second-best odds at +450 to top Group G. However, it is good to note that this team has recently thrived as the underdog. They essentially knocked out Italy from the World Cup after the Italians had proved to be one of the best teams in Europe. They also pulled off a massive upset against France in Euro 2020, scoring two goals after the 80th minute to send the game into extra time and a penalty shootout.
Even in the UEFA Nations League, Switzerland almost came back from losing the first three games. They went on to win the last three games – two against Spain and Portugal – to fall just two points short of qualifying for the playoffs.
The team clearly thrives on being underdogs with a strong compact defense, making it a tough opponent in World cup soccer 2022.