Narrowly missing out on top of the group, Switzerland had to beat Northern Ireland in the playoffs to qualify,

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Switzerland World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide

Switzerland vs Brazil – (17th June)

Switzerland face their toughest group opponents first thing, Brazil. Match preview here

Switzerland Starting XI: 1 Yann Sommer, 2 Stefan Lichtsteiner (6 Michael Lang 87), 5 Manuel Akanji, 9 Haris Seferovic (7 Breel Embolo 80), 10 Granit Xhaka, 11 Valon Behrami (17 Denis Zakaria 70), 13 Ricardo Rodriguez, 14 Steven Zuber, 15 Blerim Dzemaili, 22 Fabian Schar, 23 Xherden Shaqiri

Brazil Starting XI: 1 Alisson, 2 Thiaso Silva, 3 Miranda, 5 Casemiro (17 Fernandinho 60), 9 Gabriel Jesus (20 Roberto Firmino 79), 10 Neymar, 11 Philippe Coutinho, 12 Marcelo, 14 Danilo, 15 Paulinho (8 Renato Augusto 67), 19 Willian

Rostov-on-Don

Brazil 1 Switzerland 1

Scorers:

Brazil: Coutinho 35
Switzerland: Zuber 50

Match overview

Brazil were frustrated and held to a draw by Switzerland in their opening game after Steven Zuber’s controversial header cancelled out Philippe Coutinho’s spectacular goal.

The pre-tournament favourites took a deserved lead but their play dropped off after scoring the opener and they could not raise their game when Switzerland equalised with Steven Zuber’s header early in the second half.

Neymar, who was heavily fouled throughout, was one of a number of Brazilians who had late chances to grab the winner, but Switzerland, who had no shots on goal after their equaliser, held out.

Matter of fact

Valon Behrami became the first Swiss player to appear at four World Cups.

Granit Xhaka and Haris Seferovic were part of the Swiss side that beat a Brazil team containing Alisson, Neymar, Coutinho, Casemiro at the 2009 Under-17 World Cup. 

Talking point

The Brazilian federation launched a formal complaint to FIFA about the refereeing, claiming that Switzerland’s equaliser should have been ruled out after a push by Zuber on Miranda just before he jumped to head the ball home, but VAR ruled that the goal stood.

Stats

Brazil/Switzerland

Possession: 52/48

Goal attempts: 20/6

Attempts on target: 9/4

Corners: 7/2

Fouls: 12/19

Pass accuracy: 88/83

Distance covered: 103/108

Switzerland World Cup Guide

Switzerland won their first nine qualifiers but were still edged into second place on goal difference by Portugal after they lost 2-0 in Lisbon. They then squeezed through the play-offs, winning 1-0 on aggregate against Northern Ireland to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. This should be a team at its peak, with a number of key players – such as Ricardo Rodriguez, Fabian Schar, Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka and Haris Seferovic – all now in their mid-twenties.

Key Moments in Qualifying 

Sep 2016
Fresh from winning the Euro 2016 title, and without the injured Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal are caught off guard in Basle as Switzerland beat them 2-0 in the opening match of the campaign.
Oct 2017
Both teams win their next eight games, setting up a showdown in Lisbon. Portugal win comfortably to top the group and send the Swiss into the play-offs.
Nov 2017
A controversial penalty, awarded for handball by Corry Evans and scored by Rodriguez, gives Switzerland a 1-0 victory in the first leg of their play-off against Northern Ireland. Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic says the decision was harsh but that his team deserved to win in any case.
Nov 2017
Rodriguez again foils Northern Ireland with a clearance off his line in stoppage time in a 0-0 draw that sends Switzerland to Russia.

Switzerland World Cup Group

Switzerland are in Group E alongside Brazil, Costa Rica and Serbia.

Switzerland World Cup Friendlies

Switzerland beat Greece on the 23rd of March, and then smashed Panama 6-0 four days later. They then salvaged a draw against Spain and finally they beat Japan 2-0.

  • 23rd March – Greece (won 1-0)
  • 27th March – Panama (won 6-0)
  • 3rd June – Spain (drew 1-1)
  • 8th June – Japan (won 2-0)

Switzerland World Cup Fixtures

They open their account against Brazil on the 17th June, Serbia follow on the 22nd and finally Costa Rica on the 27th.

The Coach 

Vladimir Petkovic, age 54 (15.08.63)
Replaced Ottmar Hitzfeld following the 2014 World Cup and led the Swiss to the last 16 at Euro 2016. Before that he coached several Swiss clubs, as well as Lazio in Serie A. Born in the former Yugoslavia, he began his playing career with Sarajevo and won the league in 1985. Spent the rest of his playing career in Switzerland.

Fortunate: A controversial handball gave Switzerland a 1-0 victory in Ireland (Getty Images)

The Players 
Star
Xherdan Shaqiri‘s career has not quite lived up to early expectations, but there is always danger when he gets the ball onto his left foot and he is the Swiss player most likely to conjure up something from nothing.
Stalwarts
Yann Sommer has replaced Diego Benaglio in goal. Captain Stephan Lichtsteiner provides an attacking option from right-back, while on the other side Rodriguez is the dead-ball specialist.
Missing
Breel Embolo had to sit out most of the campaign after suffering a serious injury during a Bundesliga match with Schalke in October 2016.
Debuts
Defender Manuel Akanji and midfielders Remo Freuler and Steven Zuber all came into the side.

Switzerland World Cup Squad

Final 23-man squad – 

GOALKEEPERS: Roman Buerki (Borussia Dortmund), Yvon Mvogo (Leipzig), Yann Sommer (Borussia Monchengladbach).

DEFENDERS: Manuel Akanji (Borussia Dortmund), Johan Djourou (Antalyaspor), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Monchengladbach), Michael Lang (Basel), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Jacques-Francois Moubandje (Toulouse), Ricardo Rodriguez (Milan), Fabian Schaer (Deportivo La Coruna).

MIDFIELDERS: Valon Behrami (Udinese), Blerim Dzemaili (Bologna), Gelson Fernandes (Eintracht Frankfurt), Remo Freuler (Atalanta), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Steven Zuber (1899 Hoffenheim), Denis Zakaria (Borussia Monchengladbach).

FORWARDS: Josip Drmic (Borussia Monchengladbach), Breel Embolo (Schalke), Mario Gavranovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Haris Seferovic (Benfica).

Switzerland World Cup Injuries

We will update you with injuries here.

Deliver: Can Shaqiri conjure enough magic to get Switzerland through? (Getty Images)

The Unanswered Questions

Who will score the goals?
Haris Seferovic started as the lone striker in all but one of Switzerland’s qualifiers and managed to score four goals. However, his shooting can be erratic at times, and following his performance against Northern Ireland – particularly after he was jeered during the home game – there now appears to be a question mark over his place in the team.

Is Granit Xhaka the real deal?
While Xherdan Shaqiri is the team’s star turn, it is their defensive midfielder who makes them tick. Xhaka pulls the strings in midfield with his passing and his anticipation of dangerous situations, although he is also prone to defensive mistakes and giving the ball away.

Real Deal: Is Xhaka the real deal in the midfield? (Getty Images)

Who will play alongside Xhaka?
Denis Zakaria was thrown into the two-leg play-off tie against Northern Ireland and made an immediate impression. Switzerland can also call on the veteran Valon Behrami or another relative newcomer Remo Freuler.

Are Switzerland as good as their line-up on paper suggests?
With nearly all of their players based at clubs in Europe’s so-called big five leagues, and in the Bundesliga especially, the Swiss squad looks to be potentially one of the strongest at next year’s World Cup. But when they faced their stiffest test in the qualifiers they were found wanting, beaten comfortably away by Portugal.

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