I contacted Swiss Journalist, and admin of the FC Basel twitter account, Craig King [Twitter @FootballSwissEN] and managed to get more in-depth analysis of the potential players that he believes may be called up and how existing players can really make Switzerland one to watch during the tournament.
You follow swiss football very closely and with the upcoming World Cup is there anyone you would like to see in the squad and why?
I believe, for the most part, our squad is very settled and there will be very few surprises going forward. There are a few players on the periphery of the squad that I wouldn’t mind being included, but I wouldn’t be angry or feel like the squad was weaker without their participation. Cedric Itten is having a terrific season back in Switzerland with Young Boys and could be an asset in the squad. Dan Ndoye is also looking good at Basel alongside teammate Darian Males who has been contributing a lot of assists in an inconsistent team lately. Gregor Kobel has been good for Dortmund too, but he would be a definite number two/three to Yann Sommer, of course.
Basel are one of the biggest teams in Switzerland so I’m wondering if there are any players in the current set up who has impressed in their domestic season so far.
A couple that I already mentioned there. Males has 8 assists in the league and Europe this season, he still awaits his first cap. Dan Ndoye has featured in recent squads and is now a full Swiss international. Andi Zeqiri, Zeki Amdouni and Bradley Fink have all shone in certain matches this season and are all young, exciting players that have been tagged as having a bright future both in football and with Switzerland. This competition will come to soon for them, but they have shown flashes of that potential with Basel this season and in Zeqiri and Amdouni’s case, previously seasons with other teams in the Super League.
Are there any injury concerns for the Swiss squad and if so who are they and what does this mean for the players who may have to fill in?
Yann Sommer is one of the only injury doubts so far. He had to be replaced in a cup game for Gladbach a couple of weeks ago, but the indications are that he will be fit when the tournament comes around. Sommer has been excellent and very consistent for Switzerland at major tournaments, so he would be a big miss. That being said, Switzerland are very, very blessed in the goalkeeper department. Gregor Kobel showed his quality in the draw with Manchester City recently, Jonas Omlin plays for Montpellier and was outstanding in the win over Portugal in the UEFA Nations League earlier this year. Philipp Kohn impressed for Salzburg against Chelsea in midweek while David von Ballmoos and Yvon Mvogo are more than able deputies.
Xherdan Shaqiri is fit and injury-free, but he finished his season with Chicago Fire in MLS two weeks ago and will not play another full match until a friendly against Ghana on November 17th. That is slightly concerning. He is training with Lugano in the meantime.Embed from Getty Images
Granit Xhaka is enjoying his best season for Arsenal this year with 7 goal involvements already. When he played for Basel early in his career did you expect his to push on to Premier League status?
I don’t think there were any doubts that he had the quality to move to a top five league when he was at Basel. It was after his move to Gladbach that you then believed he could make the progression further to another big team. The move to Arsenal was viewed as an exciting one, a real test for him to prove himself and in many respects, the ideal club.
If you didn’t see him play at Basel have you seen him for Arsenal at all this year. If so how do you think he will be used for Switzerland in the World Cup being more defensive or box to box?
His time at Arsenal has been a mixed bag and it is refreshing to see him proving his worth and for the wider audiences to see the quality he delivers. The player you are seeing for Arsenal this season, who admittedly has been inconsistent in seasons gone by, is the player that delivers every time he puts on the Switzerland shirt. He is a leader, I’d say he is more box-to-box, but the real engine room and heartbeat of this side. Everything runs through Xhaka and he brings a presence to the team in these games and really leads with his play. He is crucial to the way Switzerland operates.
Looking at the group for the World Cup do you believe Switzerland can go through the group stage and potentially even further into the tournament?
Before EURO 2020, this team was almost viewed as a team that wasn’t really fulfilling the potential we all know it has. For example, they had exited at the Last 16 in the three tournaments prior. That is a magnificent achievement, of course, but there was a desire to prove that this team could do more. At the 2014 World Cup, a loss to Argentina wasn’t unexpected, but defeats to Poland and Sweden in tournaments that followed was disappointing to say the least. It also looked like it would go this way again at EURO 2020 after being paired with France, but the team embraced the challenge and performed wonderfully. This team can compete with anyone on their day.
So yes, I think they can advance through the Group Stage and into the KO round again. This is a difficult group, it is very similar to the 2018 World Cup where they were also paired with Brazil and Serbia. I’d argue that Brazil, as good as they always are, are better than the team Switzerland drew with in 2018 and the same can be said for a Serbian side they beat 2-1 in a tight game back then. It is hard to say how Cameroon will fare either. But, as I say, this team is capable of beating anyone and if they’re at their best, they can qualify.
Lastly, did you watch the Switzerland vs France game during the Euros. If so do you expect any major upsets this time around?
Yes, I did and remember it fondly 🙂 That night marks probably the greatest night in Switzerland’s football history, at least in modern times. The performance, the capitulation and eventual, unbelievable comeback was something really magical. It was the night, in my opinion, that Switzerland stamped its mark down across the football world and really made people stand up and take notice.
There will be upsets somewhere, I’ve no doubt, although I’m not sure if Switzerland will be able to pull off something of that magnitude again. I hope so, maybe against Brazil? 😉Embed from Getty Images