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SquadEdit

Goalkeepers: Diego Benaglio (Wolfsburg), Roman Burki (Grasshoppers), Yann Sommer (Basel)

Defenders:  Johan Djourou (Hamburg), Michael Lang (Grasshoppers), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Fabian Schar (Basel), Philippe Senderos (Valencia), Steve von Bergen (Young Boys), Reto Ziegler (Sassuolo)

Midfielders: Tranquillo Barnetta (Eintracht Frankfurt), Valon Behrami (Napoli), Blerim Dzemaili (Napoli), Gelson Fernandes (Freiburg), Gokhan Inler (Napoli), Xherdan Shaqiri (Bayern Munich), Valentin Stocker (Basel), Granit Xhaka (Borussia Monchengladbach)

Forwards: Josip Drmic (Nuremberg), Mario Gavranovic (Zurich), Admir Mehmedi (Freiburg), Haris Seferovic (Real Sociedad)

Swiss
Edit

Team ProfileEdit

Something of a golden era for Switzerland draws to a close at this year's FIFA World Cup.

Ottmar Hitzfeld's reign as coach will end after Brazil 2014, with the legendary German having developed and nurtured one of Switzerland's finest teams.

The 65-year-old - who won seven Bundesliga titles and two UEFA Champions Leagues during his spells in charge of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund - has opted to retire following the tournament.

Hitzfeld has overseen a remarkable transformation that has seen the Swiss evolve from also-rans placed 45th in the world rankings when he took charge in July 2008 to being regarded by many as dark horses at this year's World Cup.

Now an established presence in the world's top 10, Switzerland have not lost a competitive fixture since October 2011.

Switzerland topped their World Cup qualifying group with ease, winning seven and drawing three of their 10 matches, and were duly placed alongside traditional global heavyweights such as Argentina, Brazil and Germany among the eight seeds for the finals.

Perhaps the major disappointment of Hitzfeld's tenure came when Switzerland were eliminated in the group stages of the 2010 World Cup, despite a shock 1-0 win over eventual winners Spain in their opening game.

Switzerland will meet France, Ecuador and Honduras in their pool this time around, and Hitzfeld indicated after December's draw that they will need to be at their best to avoid a repeat of their early exit in South Africa.

"(It is) a very tense and level group with different mentalities," he said.

"European teams facing teams from South America from Central America - it's a very interesting group to play in."

Switzerland followed up their poor World Cup four years ago by failing to qualify for the 2012 UEFA European Championship, but an undefeated qualification campaign for Brazil 2014 offers evidence that they are now a force to be reckoned with.

The fact that their top scorer in qualifying, Fabian Schar, only found the net three times is indicative that Hitzfeld has created a team greater than the sum of its parts.

There are no global superstars in the Swiss ranks - just a collective of predominantly young, hungry players who are well-drilled by a master tactician.

Indeed, Hitzfeld has selected just one player over the age of 30 in his 23-man squad for the tournament - Young Boys defender Steve von Bergen.

The likes of captain Gokhan Inler and Stephan Lichtsteiner provide class and experience, while Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka - who was part of the team who won the 2009 Under-17 World Cup - offer the vibrancy of youth.

Brazil 2014 represents the 10th World Cup that Switzerland have played in, with their best performances to date being three quarter-final appearances - in 1934, 1938 and 1954.

However, the combination of an up-and-coming team and one of the best coaches in the business means hopes are high that this year's group could at least equal those showings.

And Hitzfeld, for one, certainly feels that is possible.

"Our team has reached a maturity - it has grown up," he told French broadcaster BFM.

"On a good day, we can really beat any team."

Player Profile (Gokhan Inler)Edit

Position: Midfielder
Date of Birth: June 27, 1984
Club: Napoli
International Debut: v Venezuela (September 2, 2006)
World Cup Appearances: 3
World Cup Goals: 0

Perhaps the best way to illustrate Gokhan Inler's importance to his country is to consider the man who made him Switzerland captain.

Following Alexander Frei's retirement from international football in March 2011, coach Ottmar Hitzfeld promoted vice-skipper Inler, then aged 26, to the top job.

"Inler is a leader on and off the pitch, which is important for the young players and the newcomers," the legendary German coach, who will retire after the FIFA World
Cup, told Italian newspaper Il Mattino in January this year.

The fact Hitzfeld saw Inler as captaincy material speaks volumes.

After all, having managed the likes of Lothar Matthaus, Matthias Sammer and Oliver Kahn in a glittering career that yielded seven Bundesliga titles and two UEFA Champions Leagues, it is safe to say he knows a thing or two about inspirational players.

And the 65-year-old's faith in Inler has been anything but misplaced.

Since the Napoli midfielder's promotion three years ago, the only competitive fixture Inler has missed was last September's pulsating 4-4 World Cup qualifying draw with Iceland.

It seems unlikely to be coincidental that Switzerland shipped four of the six goals they conceded in 10 qualifiers when their captain was absent through suspension.

Indeed, as if to prove that point, with Inler restored to the starting XI, Hitzfeld's side won their final three qualifying fixtures by conceding only once.

Inler provides a calming, authoritative presence at the heart of a youthful, vibrant team that many see as potential dark horses in Brazil this year.

An experienced all-round central midfielder with a penchant for the occasional spectacular goal, he is Hitzfeld's on-field general.

The former Udinese man acts as the foundation upon which the artistry and attacking threat of the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka thrives.

Following his international debut at the age of 22 against Venezuela in September 2006, Inler became a virtual ever-present in the Switzerland team.

He has now amassed more than 70 caps, with winger Tranquillo Barnetta the only active player to have represented his country on more occasions.

Six of Inler's international appearances have come at major tournaments, as he started all of Switzerland's games at UEFA Euro 2008 and the World Cup two years later.

Switzerland were eliminated in the group stages of both those competitions, but are a very different proposition now.

An undefeated World Cup qualification campaign earned Hitzfeld's side a place among heavyweights such as Argentina, Germany and Spain among the top seeds for Brazil 2014.

And after being drawn alongside France, Ecuador and Honduras in Group E, Inler has targeted leading his country beyond the pools for only the third time since 1954.

"Of course, we want to show our football at the World Cup. Our first goal is to reach the next stage, then we'll see," he told The Hard Tackle.

Hitzfeld's impending retirement is sure to act as an inspiration for Switzerland in Brazil.

And how the man he appointed captain just over three years ago would dearly love to ensure the former Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund coach's illustrious career does not end with another group-stage exit.


News SourcesEdit

FA –

http://www.football.ch/de/SFV.aspx

Media outlets –

http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/sport/fussball/

http://www.blick.ch/sport/fussball/

http://www.20min.ch/sport/fussball/

http://www.lematin.ch/sports/football/


http://www1.skysports.com/FIFA-World-Cup-2014/switzerland