As hockey fans are well aware at this point in international play – NEVER underestimate the Swiss in sports. A team that has surprising depth and some star power sprinkled throughout, team Switzerland can take care of business in a group that only boasts one top tier world beating team. The team is just that – a team. They have seemingly bonded over their selection and in group stages managed to only allow seven goals against in all play. What sometimes is more dangerous than star power is the togetherness of a cohesive unit playing as a team.
– Costa Rica
Players to watch for from Switzerland:
Xherdan Shaqiri – Currently on the newly relegated Stoke City, Shiqiri is more reflective of his Bayern Munich roots than current club situation. The man has a rocket in his left boot and puts it on display when he can. Look for Shaqiri to break off the wing and cut inside on the right side of the pitch, push the ball forward, and step into a wonder shot across the net and into the top corner – its a near guarantee. Playing for his top flight future, Shaqiri is the main offensive force for his team and should be shooting at will.
Granit Xhaka – The midfield of Switzerland’s games will be moderated, organized by, and run through Xhaka, the Arsenal maestro. Xhaka is a strong midfielder who specializes in defensive shut down play, so look for him to stay deep in his own half. However, should Switzerland wind up with the lion’s share of possession Xhaka will creep forward and unleash his massive shot when he can. Between him and Shaqiri, Switzerland are dangerous from outside the box.
Stephen Lichtsteiner – The Juventus right sided full back will be looking to display his skills for the future of his career amidst rumours of him leaving the strong Italian side. Lichtsteiner has honed his defensive skills in the highest Italian league, as well as across European competitions. He will be a stabilizing force for Switzerland and should help create a desirable tempo for the Swiss team.
Brazil should cruise through much of this tournament, but Switzerland and Serbia should be in for one hell of battle to escape from the group stage. Costa Rica looks the odd man out here, and if Switzerland can capitalize on the opportunities afforded to their long range attack they can absolutely move on to the knock out stages.