World Cup 2022 Group G: Switzerland out to prove doubters wrong again

Xhaka, Shaqiri and Co topped their qualifying group ahead of European champions Italy

Switzerland's Granit Xhaka celebrates with teammates after the Uefa Nations League victory over Portugal in June. Reuters
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For Switzerland, the 2022 World Cup provides yet another opportunity to correct the critics. At last summer’s European Championships, the Rossocrociati stunned favourites France in the Round of 16, but that wasn’t to be their only notable upset over the past 18 months.

Much like group rivals Serbia, Switzerland edged out a football heavyweight to top their Word Cup qualifying group. Two draws against reigning European champions Italy saw them finish first in Group C, leaving the Azzuri to play North Macedonia in a playoff. For the Swiss, it served as confirmation that Euro 2020 was no fluke.

While Switzerland don’t quite have the same star power as Serbia, they arguably have more quality across the team. Experience can be all-important in big tournaments, which the likes of Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri, and Ricardo Rodriguez provide in spades.

All three represented Switzerland at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, with Shaqiri even playing in South Africa 12 years ago. That star trio, supplemented by the talented Manuel Akanji in defence, Yann Sommer in goal, and Breel Embolo up front, gives the side a spine of real quality.

The man in charge is former Swiss international Murat Yakin, who took over from Vladimir Petkovic in July 2021.

Under the 47-year-old, Switzerland sealed qualification to the 2022 World Cup in style, although recent results have been less consistent. Their low point was a 4-0 Nations League defeat to Portugal in June, from which the Swiss recovered well to earn a 1-0 win over the same opponents a week later.

Switzerland manager Murat Yakin celebrates after the World Cup qualifying win over Bulgaria in November, 2021. EPA

On their day, Switzerland are capable of beating just about any side in world football. With a rock-solid defence to fall back on, they have several match winners who can make the difference in the final third.

Questions remain over the ageing nature of the squad, as Shaqiri, who was so often the difference maker in years gone by, is something of a fading force. However, with new heroes like Djibril Sow and Embolo now coming to the fore, anything is possible for the perennial overachievers.

Manager: Murat Yakin

Star player: Granit Xhaka

One to Watch: Djibril Sow

World Cups appeared in: 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1994, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018

Fixtures: Nov 24 - Switzerland v Cameroon / Nov 28 - Brazil v Switzerland / Dec 2 - Serbia v Switzerland

Updated: September 28, 2022, 8:36 AM
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