World Cup 2018 Preview: Switzerland

Despite losing only once in qualification, Switzerland were forced to qualify for Russia 2018 via the playoffs.

Nickname(s): Schweizer Nati, La Nati, Rossocrociati

Best Finish: Quarter-final (1934, 1938, 1954)

How they qualified: Switzerland booked their spot at Russia 2018 thanks to a 1-0 aggregate play-off win over Northern Ireland, having finished second in Europe’s Group B on goal difference behind Portugal to clinch their fourth-successive appearance at the global finals. Their win over the Irish, however, was fortunate, the difference being a very harsh penalty for handball, which essentially settled the two-legged tie.

Coach: Vladimir Petkovic

Vladimir Petkovic is a man of many talents. Not only is he a coach, he also once worked for Caritas Ticino, an organization that supports welfare recipients and the unemployed. As a coach, Petkovic led AC Bellinzona into the Swiss top flight and also had spells at BSC Young Boys and Turkish first division outfit Samsunspor. He moved to Italian Serie A side Lazio ahead of the 2012/13 campaign, winning the domestic cup in his first season in charge. He then became Switzerland coach after Ottmar Hitzfeld’s departure following the 2014 World Cup and appears to be struggling to control the mix of talent and personalities at his disposal.

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Key Man: Xherdan Shaqiri

A full international since 2010, Shaqiri has earned over 60 caps for Switzerland. He represented the nation at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, as well as Euro 2016 where he scored one of the goals of the tournament. The forward is currently plying his trade with Stoke City in the Premier League where he has not yet fulfilled his own high expectations after leaving Bayern Munich in 2015 for bigger and better things.

Opening fixtures:

June 17 vs Brazil

June 22 vs Serbia

June 27 vs Costa Rica

Squad: TBD

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