Swiss coach Murat Yakin has announced his World Cup squad and it includes seven Bundesliga players, including Borussia Dortmund’s Gregor Kobel. Amongst the final selection of 26 players, the former VfB Stuttgart centre-back has selected 19 players who reached the quarterfinals at the Euro 2020.
BVB goalkeeper Kobel is amongst the four goalkeepers selected. The 24-year-old will be hoping to add to his tally of three caps for the national team at the tournament.
Whether Kobel gains further caps however will depend on the match fitness of first-choice keeper, Gladbach’s Yann Sommer who has been out since his side’s DFB Pokal loss to Darmstadt 98. Montpellier’s in-form keeper Jonas Omlin who Kobel replaced at Euro 2020 is also an option.
In defence, Mainz 05’s 29-year-old right-back Silvan Widmer is amongst the players who featured in the side’s European Championship squad in the summer. Widmer brings the experience of his 33 caps to the team and is likely to be first choice alongside Torino’s Ricardo Rodriguez
A further Bundesliga defender is 26-year-old Gladbach centre-back Nico Elvedi who is a mainstay of Daniel Farke’s team and has been a regular feature in a defence that has only conceded twice in eight world cup qualifiers.
The omission of Kevin Mbabu and right-back Jordan Lotomba has surprised some, as this leaves the side highly dependent on Silvan Widmer and Manuel Akanji. A player who can however provide cover in both centre-back and midfield is Sebastian Frei.
The inclusion of FC Basel’s former captain Frei wasn’t universally welcomed across the media. Speaking to GGFN, 17-time Swiss international Timm Klose who now plays for Bristol City however underlined the value of the inclusion of the 33-year-old: “Overall this selection has a good balance of young and experienced players and Fabian’s call up brings an added dimension to the midfield which can be invaluable, I am happy for my former teammate.”
In midfield Eintracht Frankfurt’s Djibril Sow is making his third appearance at a major tournament. The 25-year-old who won the Swiss title with Young Boys in 2018, is a mainstay of the Eintracht team that won the Europa League and is likely to be chosen against stronger opponents like Brazil.
Augsburg’s centre-forward Ruben Vargas who scored a crucial penalty in the Round of 16 match against France at Euro 2020, and is a regular for Enrico Maaßen’s side, brings speed to the attack and is likely to feature in the games against the less strong opponents.
Granit Xhaka may not be getting as much game time at the Emirates these days, but he is still the key man in Yakin’s side and his performances will be key to Switzerland’s success at the tournament.
There is no shortage of experience in midfield and Mainz’s Edmilson Fernandes, who is the only player with Dominican Republic ancestry ever to have played for the Swiss team, is back-up in midfield.
Making their first appearance for the national team at a tournament are Michel Aebischer, Ardon Jashari, Philipp Köhn, Noah Okafor, Renato Steffen and Fabian Rieder.
One player who is unlikely to be playing a role after the 2022 World Cup is the former Bayern attacker Xherdan Shaqiri. For the 31-year-old Chicago Fire forward this year’s cup is his sixth tournament with the Red and Whites and his 108 appearances for the national team are testament to his impressive career.
National team coach Yakin underlined the challenges of narrowing down the selection for the tournament: “We were spoilt for choice, many players have delivered convincing performances in recent weeks and months. But in the end, I had to limit myself to 26 names. I am convinced that these 26 players can help us achieve our goals at any time.”
Switzerland play a friendly against Ghana in Abu Dhabi on November 17 before the first group stage match against Cameroon on Thursday 24, followed by Brazil on the 28 and the final group stage game against Serbia on December 2.
In spite of ‘Die Nati’s’ poor performances in the UEFA Nations League they should still be looking to progress to the second round alongside the tournament favourites five-time champions Brazil.
GGFN | Ben McFadyean