Nickname: The Swiss
FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking: 24
Switzerland is making their ninth appearance in the World Cup and has been placed in Group H alongside Spain (ranked 2nd), Chile (ranked 18th) and Honduras (ranked 38th). Switzerland is expected to compete with Chile for second place in this group behind Spain. Chile and Switzerland will meet June 21, with the winner likely getting Brazil in the second round.
Switzerland began qualification very poorly, but after a surprise loss to Luxemburg they woke up and won five games straight. They eventually came out on top of European Group 2, topping favorite Greece. Switzerland hopes their young talent can surprise some folks in South Africa and top their best performance of reaching the quarterfinals.
The Swiss are coached by Ottmar Hitzfeld. Hitzfeld has won World Coach of the Year twice and turned down offers from many clubs and national teams to coach Switzerland. He has dreamed of coaching this team and has already claimed that leading them to the World Cup is the highlight of his career, despite being one of only two coaches to win the UEFA Champions League with two different clubs. Hitzfeld believes in disciplined soccer and does not care about entertaining fans but about winning games. Hitzfeld also is a very analytical coach who focuses on physical fitness and hard work.
The biggest name on this Swiss team is forward Alexander Frei. Frei is the all-time leading scorer for the Swiss and is the unquestionable leader on this team. Joining Frei on the attack is Blaise N’Kufo, and the two played extremely well together during qualifying, combining for nine goals. The Swiss will hope this pairing can continue their successful partnership and surprise some folks in South Africa.
Two other young talents to pay attention to on this team are goalie Diego Benaglio and midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta. Both will be crucial components of any success this Swiss team has in South Africa.