Switzerland will be brimming with confidence after downing France at Euro 2020, midfield warrior Granit Xhaka is in top form with Arsenal and Manuel Akanji leads a stubborn defence… five reasons why they are dark horses at the Qatar World Cup
- Switzerland have been known to cause a few shock upsets in major tournaments
- A solid defence, a gritty midfield including Granit Xhaka could help the Swiss
- Switzerland knocked 2018 World Cup champions out in the last-16 of Euro 2020
- Sportsmail takes a look at five reasons that Switzerland could be the dark horses
- Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results
Switzerland have been known to cause upsets in international tournaments and could prove to be dark horses at the Qatar World Cup.
A solid defence, a gritty battling midfield, top class goalkeepers and some attacking threats, the Swiss squad poses enough threat to cause teams issues.
They will be pitted against tournament favourites Brazil, Serbia and Cameroon in the group-stages with the hope of progressing into the knock-outs.
Switzerland could be dark horses at the World Cup, as they’re known for pulling off upsets
Brazil will be expected to finish top of Group G while the second place is very much up for grabs between the other three teams.
Tournament experience, a touch of class, and the fact they’re no pushovers could play into their favour over Serbia and Cameroon.
Sportsmail takes a look at the five reasons that Switzerland could be dark horses at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Swiss are never pushovers
The Swiss like we’ve already mentioned are known for causing a few upsets and everyone is well aware that they are no pushovers by now.
They stunned 2018 World Cup winners France at Euro 2020 and nicked a 1-1 draw against Brazil during the previous World Cup in the group-stages.
Murat Yakin’s side had a disappointing group-stage campaign in the Euros, finishing third behind Italy and Wales, but finishing ahead of Turkey.
Switzerland managed to qualify for the last-16 as one of the best third-placed teams and were drawn against favourites France.
Switzerland knocked World Cup champions France out of Euro 2020 on penalties in the last-16
No one and I mean no one would have expected the Swiss to come out on top of that tie, but they sealed a victory over the World Cup champions on penalties after a 3-3 draw.
To make it even more impressive was the fact they overcome a 3-1 second-half deficit to seal their first knock-out stage win in a major tournament since the 1938 World Cup.
That is not the first occasion they’ve pulled off a shock result and will definitely not be the last with the under-rated squad that they posses.
Not forgetting, they also managed to edge out European champions Italy in qualifying for this year’s tournament.
A rock solid defence
Defence wins championships as the old saying goes. They might not the best defensive line-up, but they are most definitely solid and that always means you stand a good chance of succeeding.
The options at centre-back alone suggest they should be able to limit attacks with the likes of Manuel Akanji, Fabian Schar and Nico Elvedi to choose from.
Manchester City summer signing Akanji will be a key figure in the Swiss defence with his big game experience.
Man City defender Manuel Akanji (pictured) will be at the heart of defence for Switzerland
The 27-year-old, who has 42 caps, has become more of a regular than first expected when he joined the Premier League champions – having made 12 appearances in all competitions already this campaign.
Newcastle United’s Fabian Schar is expected to line up alongside Akanji to form a strong base of the back line, having been instrumental for the Magpies so far this campaign, helping them to third place in the Premier League as it stands.
Switzerland usually opt to play with a back three and could be joined by Borussia Monchengladbach defender Elvedi.
Xhaka and Zakaria are midfield warriors
A gritty, battling midfield is the best way to describe the duo of Granit Xhaka and Denis Zakaria.
Xhaka has been always been a star for his country, but is arguably in the best form of his career at club level for Arsenal right now.
The 30-year-old has been in excellent form this season, chipping in with three goals and three assists in the top flight while playing a slightly more advanced role, helping the Gunners sit top of the Premier League going into the break.
You’d expect Xhaka to be Switzerland’s key man at the tournament, but he could be aided by his strong support in midfield.
Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka is expected to be a star for Switzerland in a battling and gritty midfield
Zakaria, although he hasn’t played too much this season since joining Chelsea on loan from Juventus, he briefly proved how good he can be when he has been handed his chances.
It will depend on whether or not Zakaria is given the nod over Nottingham Forest summer signing Remo Freuler.
Freuler is often the preferred option, either way you can expect a competitive midfield led by Xhaka.
Seferovic and Embolo pose a real threat
Much like another team in their group in Serbia, they have a surprise package up front. Given they haven’t got the same proven track record as Dusan Vlahovic and Aleksandr Mitrovic, but they can still be a strong threat.
Galatasaray striker Haris Seferovic is not in the greatest form at club level, having only scored twice in 10 appearances so far this campaign. His international record is more proven, notching 25 goals in 89 caps.
The 30-year-old is held in high regard by the Swiss. He always seems to step up for his nation, more than his club. They’ll be hoping that is the case in Qatar.
Striker Haris Seferovic (pictured) always seems to step up to the occasion for Switzerland
Seferovic may have more experience at international level, but it could be his partner Breel Embolo, who this time round rises to the occasion – although they’ll need both of them to perform to progress out of a tricky group.
The 25-year-old’s summer switch to Monaco has proved a good move, as he is good form and that stands him in good stead ahead of their opening fixture.
Embolo has netted eight goals and added four assists in 23 appearances in all competitions.
He also boasts a fairly impressive international record, scoring 11 times in 59 caps at such a young age.
Breel Embolo (pictured, left) is in good form after making the summer switch to AS Monaco
The Swiss head into the tournament on a good run of form, after losing their first three Nations League fixtures in June, they rallied back come September to seal three consecutive victories.
They beat Portugal 1-0, Spain 2-1 and Czech Republic 2-1, as they remained in the top tier of the Nations League.
Beating Portugal and Spain not only proves they can battle with the big boys, but will have built some confidence heading into the tournament.
Prior to that, the Swiss failed to win in five matches, losing to the likes of Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic and England while also drawing with Kosovo.
The only drawback when it comes to their recent fortunes was a 2-1 defeat to Ghana in a friendly in preparation for 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)
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