GROUP E
Switzerland

THE 60-SECOND OVERVIEW

Unlike some of their predecessors, who mostly scored from set pieces, this Switzerland team has pace, power and an emerging top class finisher in Josip Drmic. The challenge is to avoid sacrificing too much solidity in the search for greater expansiveness.

The side are keen to become their country’s best ever representatives, and are spurred on by their surprise seeding for the tournament. Many of the players have experienced unprecedented international success at age-group levels, and they are undaunted by the World Cup. Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld’s determination to end his glorious career with a bang is also a significant factor. They won't get close to actually winning the trophy, but neither should they disappoint.

THE DREAM

To produce Switzerland’s greatest World Cup performance by reaching at least the quarter-finals - which they also did in 1954, but that was at home. The best route to nirvana is widely perceived as beating Ecuador and Honduras and taking a point off France, thus topping the group and avoiding Argentina in the second round.

Less specifically, the Swiss are proud to have been seeded and want to be seen to justify that ranking in the eyes of the world. This vision also includes not boring the pants off everybody, as they have done at some previous tournaments.

THE NIGHTMARE

The inverse of the dream: that they fail to meet expectations raised by their seeding and embarrass themselves in front of everyone. That a France team equalling the sum of its parts will turn up – instead of the rabble combusted in South Africa – and be too good for them. That Ecuador will prove more adept at dealing with the Latin American conditions. And the recurring terror that tops them all is of disintegrating in a sweat-soaked horrorfest against Honduras, just like they did last time in Bloemfontein.

THE STATS
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PLAYER MOST LIKELY TO...

BE PREMIER LEAGUE-BOUND: JOSIP DRMIC

The 21-year-old forward has been lighting up the Bundesliga with Nuremberg this season, and is already on the radar of numerous Premier League and other big European clubs, with Arsenal as hot favourites.

PLAYER MOST LIKELY TO...

BE CALLED THE 'NEW STEVEN GERRARD': GRANIT XHAKA

"Xherdan Shaqiri is the best talent in Switzerland – after Granit Xhaka," reckons Basel coach Thorsten Fink, and the man also dubbed ‘young Schweinsteiger’ has been a huge hit in the Bundesliga with Borussia Moenchengladbach. Expect bigger clubs to come knocking.

PLAYER MOST LIKELY TO...

EMBRACE THE LOCAL CULTURE: STEPHAN LICHTSTEINER

Amid a wholly unzany squad, Lichtsteiner in particular is a paragon of sensibility. An intelligent, multilingual man, he’s likely to try to learn the lingo and absorb the intricacies of Brazilian culture.

DID YOU KNOW?

Switzerland’s cosmopolitan status is proudly expressed in its national team. At least 15 of the anticipated 23-man squad could have qualified to represent other countries.

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Not for nothing are the Swiss seeds: they have added attacking ability to their defensive nous. If they click, the quarters could beckon.