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World Cup 2014 Guide: Switzerland

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Experienced coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has picked a relatively inexperienced side for this tournament which will be his last before he retires from football after a successful career in which he managed both Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich to Champions League victories. Switzerland head into the tournament ranked 8th in the FIFA rankings, ahead of the likes of Italy, England and group rivals France. Switzerland came through the qualifying stage unbeaten with 7 wins and 3 draws to win their group with ease. Despite this, many bookmakers don’t rate their chances in Brazil with prices of 100/1 from most bookmakers.

Hitzfeld and his players will be hoping to cause a massive shock in Brazil and could benefit with having so many youngsters in the squad due to the physical demands of playing in the soaring South American temperatures. Could Hitzfeld inspire a generation of talented youngsters to success or has this World Cup come too early for Switzerland?

Key Players

Ricardo Rodriquez – The Wolfsburg left back signed for the German side in January 2012 and has gone on to make 75 appearances for them, scoring 5 goals all of which came this season. Despite only being 21 years old, Rodriquez has already made 19 senior appearances for Switzerland and will be hoping he can continue on his impressive club form from this season into the World Cup. He is an example of a modern full back, using his pace and power to get forward to support attacks whilst remaining solid at the back, although he can be prone to a lack of concentration which is something he will be keen to avoid this summer. Jose Mourinho is reportedly interested in signing the left back as Ashley Cole’s successor at Chelsea, a good World Cup showing will no doubt add a few million onto his price tag.

Granit Xhaka – Another youngster who has made himself a regular in the German Bundesliga as well as for the Swiss national side earning 22 caps despite being only 21 years old. After an 8.5 million euros move to Monchengladbach from Basel, Xhaka took time to acclimatise to a new style of football but has been impressive this season as his side grabbed a Europa League spot in Germany. Despite issues with discipline, picking up ten yellow cards and one red in 28 games this season, Xhaka will be a key figure for Switzerland. He is a typical box-to-box style with an eye for a pass. Hitzfeld once compared the youngster with Bayern Munich star Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Xherdan Shaqiri – Often a substitute for Bayern Munich, 22 year old Shaqiri will still be a vital attacking asset for Switzerland. The pacey left footed star can play in a host of attacking positions and despite only starting ten games for Bayern last season he still managed to score 6 goals and provide 2 assists. Shaqiri is thought to be keen to leave Bayern if he is not guaranteed first team football, but only for a team in next seasons Champions League, which has alerted Liverpool. However, Bayern are not as keen to let him go as they see him as the long term replacement to the aging Arjen Robben. Can Shaqiri convince Pep Guardiola to offer him a starting place at Bayern by impressing at the World Cup for Switzerland?

Josip Drmic – Drmic is another who has moved from his native Switzerland to star in the German Bundesliga, netting 17 goals in his debut season for Nurnberg. However, his first season in Germany ended in heartbreak as Nurnberg were relegated after losing their last 5 games in the Bundesliga. Drmic however, won’t be playing in the Bundesliga.2 next season having already agreed to move to Champions League qualifiers Bayer Leverkusen, despite being linked with a move to FA Cup winners Arsenal. Drmic has 5 caps for Switzerland, scoring 2 goals and will certainly be hoping to add to that this summer in Brazil. If Xhaka and Shaqiri can create chances Drmic will be hoping use his excellent finishing abilities to ensure he has a successful tournament.

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