Swiss aiming to take the next step at a major tournament
Switzerland have been transformed over the last decade, becoming a side that regularly qualifies for World Cups and European Championships.
- Much of this is due to the influence of second-generation immigrants, mainly from the former Yugoslavia, who have given the side a swagger and spikiness that may have been missing in the past.
- After reaching the last 16 at each of their last three tournaments, Switzerland will be looking to break through that barrier and reach the quarter-finals this summer. They will also want to wipe out the poor impression left by their lacklustre elimination at the hands of Sweden in the last World Cup.
- They only lost once in Euro qualifying and, although they failed to win any of their first seven games following the coronavirus stoppage, those games have included two draws against Germany and one against Spain.
Coach Vladimir Petkovic’s philosophy is that his team should dominate and take the initiative no matter who they are playing against. Tactics are often flexible, but a general feature is a three-man defence in either a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 formation.
The captain makes the Switzerland midfield tick with his refined passing and competitive edge.
The Bosnian spent most of his playing career in Switzerland. Coached Lazio before taking the Swiss job in 2014.
Once nicknamed the “Alpine Messi,” it is fair to say that Shaqiri has not yet lived up to that moniker.
Having made the breakthrough with Basle, he moved to Bayern Munich at the age of 19 but it proved premature and he struggled for regular football.
A short stint at Internazionale was no more successful, but he made a better impression at Stoke City in England’s Premier League.
That form earned his move to Liverpool, yet in spite of some bright moments – notably scoring a brace against Manchester United – he has generally found himself on the fringes of the first team once again.
Even so, there is no doubting his talent. He has extraordinary ability when shooting from distance – which he has shown in exasperating glimpses, such as his stunning hat-trick against Honduras at the 2014 World Cup and his spectacular scissors-kick goal against Poland at Euro 2016.
Last year, he asked to be left out of the squad to concentrate on his club career but returned in October for the Nations League matches.
Article by Brian Homewood
This article first appeared in the January Edition of World Soccer. You can purchase old issues of the magazine by clicking here.