Switzerland World Cup Preview & Analysis: Schedule, Roster & Projections
Pictured: Granit Xhaka.
- Switzerland are a dark-horse contender at the FIFA World Cup.
- Do they deserve more respect from oddsmakers?
- Anthony Dabbundo breaks down the squad, including rosters and a tactical analysis.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup has arrived, and Action Network’s staff of soccer experts are here to take you through each and every team that will be participating.
Read on for a full breakdown of Switzerland ahead of the tournament, and click here for analysis on each of the other 31 teams.
Switzerland World Cup Preview
Switzerland are the ultimate high-floor, low-ceiling international team of the last decade. The squad has a solid amount of depth across the various positions but lacks game-changing talent across its top players.
They work well together as a cohesive team and have plenty of experience playing with one another, too. Switzerland escaped the group stage at the 2014 World Cup before losing to Argentina in extra time in the Round of 16. They advanced in second place from their group in 2018 before losing to Sweden in the Round of 16.
Switzerland’s stunning comeback against France helped them move one step further in the Euros last summer and reach the quarterfinal, before they lost to Spain on penalties.
Goalkeeper Yann Sommer picked up an injury in the Bundesliga, and his status is uncertain for the World Cup. Either way, the Swiss will be solid in goal with Dortmund’s Gregor Kobel waiting behind him if needed.
Most of the Switzerland team is right at the end of their peak years, and this could be the last solid chance to make a deep run in the World Cup until the new generation cycles through. Xherdan Shaqiri is the leader of the Swiss attack, but he’s 31 now and has not been near his peak for a few years in the club world.
|Chances To…||Action Projections||bet365 Odds|
|Win Group Stage||15.96%||+450|
|Advance To Knockout Round||51.32%||-110|
|Win World Cup||1.57%||+10000|
|Odds as of publish. Action projections by Nick Giffen of the Action Predictive Analytics team.|
The midfield pairing of Granit Xhaka and Remo Freuler are both right at the age of 30, while left back Ricardo Rodriguez is 30 along with striker Haris Seferovic. Denis Zakaria hasn’t played much in club football this season but is another solid box-to-box midfielder who could see important minutes off the bench in this World Cup.
Switzerland’s defense is anchored by the mostly reliable pairing of Manuel Akanji and Nico Elvedi, although both have struggled with form in parts of the last calendar year. Switzerland are solid through the spine with their center backs and central midfield players.
The questions come in the attack, where the underlying numbers are less than impressive. Seferovic is always an option up top as more of a target man. Monaco’s Breel Embolo is excellent at coming deep for the ball and bringing it into the penalty area to create chances, which helps solve a ball progression problem for Switzerland at times. Another option could be Cedric Itten, who has thrived in the Swiss Super League in an all-around forward role.
22-year old RB Salzburg forward Noah Okafor is also a name to watch for the Swiss as they try to be more explosive and dynamic in attack to beef up their margin for error defensively.
The Swiss were 11th in European Qualifying in chances created, but they did have a top-six defense. They won their qualifying group in dramatic fashion on the final day of the group when they managed a road draw in Italy after a Jorginho missed penalty. That missed penalty was potentially the difference between Switzerland qualifying for the tournament and not.
Switzerland were dealt one of the more intriguing groups with Brazil, Cameroon and Serbia. Because of how the fixtures align, it’s likely that Serbia and Switzerland will face off for second place in the group on the final day. If they advance, the Swiss could see Uruguay or Portugal in the Round of 16. It’s hard to see a deep run coming for the Swiss in Qatar, but it’s hard to see the tournament going terribly wrong, too.
Key Player: Granit Xhaka
Xhaka has been a mainstay in this Switzerland team for a decade now and is often the key player that makes this midfield and conservative approach to play without the ball work. He’s played in a more advanced role for Arsenal this season and packed more of a goal-scoring punch because of it. But for Switzerland, Xhaka is much more of a pace-setter.
The progression and build-up play runs through him. His partner Freuler is more of a destroyer, and while Xhaka can do plenty of that himself, he’s also the primary long passer to outlets on the wings to service attacks and crosses.
He’s faced criticism from Arsenal fans in the past, but he’s posted excellent ball progression and pass completion numbers in the last two seasons. He’s the steadying force in and out of possession for Switzerland and is in great form. If he has a good World Cup, you have to like Switzerland’s chances of escaping the group.
When out of possession, Switzerland are not a team that immediately look to press. Their statistical profile sees a lot of ball recoveries in their own final third, but they’re not winning tackles all over the pitch and playing with a high defensive line.
Instead, Switzerland employ a mid-block type defensive approach that prioritizes defending the penalty area and conceding bad shots from long range. The Swiss truly defend as a cohesive unit that prevents teams from finding space between the lines or in behind the defensive line.
Switzerland’s attack is heavily reliant on crosses into the area, both in live ball situations and on set pieces. Shaqiri always makes them dangerous in dead ball situations, and Steven Zuber’s three assist game from full back at the Euros last summer demonstrates how dangerous the Swiss can be from the wings.
Because Freuler and Xhaka are excellent at filling in places on the back line, you’ll often see both full backs pushing up in possession when the opportunities present themselves. It’s not likely to be both at the same time, but they use a 4-2-3-1 formation with plenty of tactical flexibility in and out of possession.
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Switzerland World Cup Schedule
|Cameroon||5 a.m. ET, Nov. 24|
|Brazil||11 a.m. ET, Nov. 28|
|Serbia||2 p.m. ET, Dec. 2|
Most Recent World Cup Result
Round of 16 (2018)
Switzerland did well to get out of a group with Brazil, Serbia and Costa Rica in 2018, but a tough Round of 16 fixture with Switzerland proved too difficult for the Swiss. A 66′ minute goal from Emil Forsberg was enough to end Switzerland’s World Cup campaign.