Perennial dark horses Switzerland head into the World Cup feeling good after an undefeated qualification campaign saw them reach Qatar ahead of European champions Italy.
This will be the Swiss side’s 12th appearance at the World Cup and their eighth attempt to match 1954’s best-ever finish of the quarter-final.
Despite their less-than-convincing record at World Cup tournaments, Switzerland remain one of those countries that most rival fans are keen to avoid and that feeling has only grown after their qualification run.
Here’s what you need to know about Switzerland at the World Cup.
Goalkeepers: Gregor Kobel (Borussia Dortmund), Philipp Kohn (RB Salzburg), Jonas Omlin (Montpellier), Yann Sommer (Borussia Monchengladbach)
Defenders: Manuel Akanji (Manchester City), Eray Comert (Valencia), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Monchengladbach), Ricardo Rodriguez (Torino), Fabian Schar (Newcastle United), Silvan Widmer (Mainz)
Midfielders: Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Edimilson Fernandes (Mainz), Fabian Frei (Basel), Remo Freuler (Nottingham Forest), Ardon Jashari (Luzern), Fabian Rieder (Young Boys), Xherdan Shaqiri (Chicago Fire), Djibril Sow (Eintracht Frankfurt), Renato Steffen (Lugano), Denis Zakaria (Chelsea), Michel Aebischer (Bologna)
Forwards: Breel Embolo (Monaco), Christian Fassnacht (Young Boys), Noah Okafor (RB Salzburg), Haris Seferovic (Galatasaray), Ruben Vargas (Augsburg)
Usual backup goalkeeper Yvon Mvogo picked up a knee injury during Lorient’s defeat to PSG on November 6 which unfortunately cost him a place in the squad.
Ahead of him, there are major doubts about the iconic Yann Sommer. The Gladbach goalkeeper tore his ankle ligaments in October and has not played a competitive minute since, but he did make the squad. The inclusion of four stoppers in the 26-player squad could tell you all you need to know about his likely involvement, however.
The World Cup comes at the ideal time for midfielder Granit Xhaka, who is in the form of his life. Having starred for Arsenal so far this season, all eyes will be on the 30-year-old, who has 106 caps to his name.
Another enjoying life in the Premier League, Manuel Akanji has impressed since his summer switch from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester City. The centre-back has been to two major tournaments with his country and played every minute in each.
Xherdan Shaqiri remains Switzerland’s talisman. The winger is enjoying life over in Major League Soccer with Chicago Fire and will be hoping to add to his 26 goals for his country.
Strikers from across the globe will be praying that Sommer doesn’t recover in time as the Gladbach goalkeeper is one of the world’s best on his day. He has 30 clean sheets in 76 caps but is still awaiting his first World Cup shut-out.
Murat Yakin’s preferred setup has been a 4-2-3-1 formation, although don’t be surprised to see that switch to a 4-3-3 in tougher games.
Switzerland predicted XI: Sommer; Widmer, Schar, Akanji, Rodriguez; Freuler, Xhaka; Shaqiri, Sow, Vargas; Embolo
As mentioned earlier, Switzerland were in high spirits after they went unbeaten in qualification, although they haven’t managed to maintain that form.
2022 has yielded mixed results, including failing to win either of their two friendlies and splitting their six Nations League games evenly between victories and defeats.
They lost their first three Nations League games but won their final three, seeing off significant tournament-calibre foes in Portugal, Spain and the Czech Republic.
Switzerland’s last five results (all competitions)
Portugal 4-0 Switzerland
Switzerland 0-1 Spain
Switzerland 1-0 Portugal
Spain 1-2 Switzerland
Switzerland 2-1 Czech Republic
Drawn in Group G alongside pre-tournament favourites Brazil, Switzerland can expect to find themselves in a shoot-out with Serbia and Cameroon for the second qualifying spot.
Finishing second, which they are more than capable of doing, would see Switzerland drawn against the winner of Group H, which is likely to be either Portugal or Uruguay. Regardless of who they come up against, that fixture is tough to predict.
On paper, however, Switzerland don’t look to have the firepower needed to get any further in the competition.
Prediction: Last 16