Euro 2024 opposition guide: The lowdown on Group A opponents Switzerland

Switzerland have had mixed results recently but have plenty talent in their ranks.

Euro 2024 opposition guide: The lowdown on Group A opponents Switzerland Getty Images

Euro 2020 produced its fair share of memories but one moment in particular seemed to sum up just what football can do to otherwise sane people.

Television cameras picked on one Swiss fan as his side trailed France 3-2 in the last 16 match in Bucharest. In a red Switzerland shirt and white sun hat, his face was a picture of anguish as he watched his side head towards exiting the competition.

Two minutes later, the camera captured him again. Hat gone, shirt off, screaming with raw emotion after an equaliser forced extra time.

Switzerland went on to knock France out on penalties, of course, and then missed out on the semi-finals after losing to Spain in another shoot-out. The mood has changed a lot since then.

A nation that has reached the last five World Cups and now three Euros in a row, is heading into the finals with a bit of uncertainty over what is a realistic ambition, and still mulling over some poor results since the last Euros.

World Cup pain and a bumpy qualification journey

The draw for the last World Cup in Qatar put Switzerland in a group with Serbia, Cameroon and Brazil. A narrow loss to the South Americans was offset by a 1-0 victory over Cameroon and a thrilling 3-2 win over Serbia to progress to the knockout stage in confident mood.

Portugal lay in wait and when the team news showed Cristiano Ronaldo had been dropped to the bench, the Swiss hopes would have risen. Instead they were battered 6-1, with Goncalo Ramos grabbing a hat-trick and goals raining in from the 17th minute through to the 92nd.

After that bruising experience, a quick lift was needed and Euros qualifying started brightly. Wins over Belarus, Israel and Andorra made for a perfect start but letting slip a two-goal lead at home to Romania proved to be a turning point.   

The only qualifying win after that came against Andorra, and while the only loss was away to Romania, four draws meant they limped over the line in second place to qualify for Germany.

Friendly results since have been a little better, with a goalless draw against Denmark followed by a win over Ireland in Dublin.

The warm-up games delivered a comfortable 4-0 over Estonia and a 1-1 at home to Austria but there’s no real feel of momentum going into the finals.

Former star player under pressure in the dugout

Murat Yakin earned 49 caps as a defender for Switzerland and scored four times for his country so it was no surprise when he accepted the call to become manager in 2021.

Yakin had built up plenty of experience at a number of clubs, including Grasshoppers, Basel and Spartak Moscow before taking on the international job.

Popular early in his reign, the mood turned after the World Cup and results had plenty expecting Yakin to be sacked. He was only given a vote of confidence in the week before the finals draw and had an experienced manager, Giorgio Contini, imposed on him as his new assistant coach.

Yakin has been relaxed about the criticism, saying his experience has taught him not to get carried away with highs or lows, but the 49-year-old, out of contract after the Euros will be well aware that his future depends on a good showing in Germany.

Top level players with medals in their pockets

The most recognisable names in the squad are undoubtedly Granit Xhaka and Manuel Akanji but there’s rich depth in Yakin’s final 26-man selection with most players draw from the top five leagues.

Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Xhaka has already had a season to remember, playing a major role as Xabi Alonso’s side secured an incredible league and cup double, and reached the Europa League final. His willingness to take the ball in tight situations and pick the right pass to move up the field is as valuable for his country as it has been for his club.

Akanji has just won a second Premier League title with Manchester City and collected a runners-up medal in the FA Cup. After playing 48 times in Pep Guardiola’s side this season, he’ll now take on a leadership role at the heart of Switzerland’s defence alongside Borussia Moenchengladbach’s Nico Elvedi.

Yann Sommer is another heading to the Euros with a league medal in his pocket after helping Inter to the Seie A title and the keeper’s 88 caps mean they don’t lack for experience in goal.

Monaco striker Breel Embolo has scored 13 times for his country but a cruciate ligament injury sidelined him for almost all of this season and he only returned to action in April. When fit, he can be an important player and Yakin will have his fingers crossed the forward is fully ready and sharp after picking up a minor injury at the end of the league campaign. He didn’t play in either of the team’s warm-up games.

One of the best-known Swiss players of recent years, Xherdan Shaqiri, is in the squad but in the twilight of his career and not a guaranteed starter. Still outrageously gifted and with a thunderous shot, he would a threat to anyone even if just coming off the bench.

The expectation

The qualifying campaign has done a lot to prevent anyone getting carried away and there is a strong argument that the squad that’s achieved so much over the last decade is now reaching the end of a cycle.

That said, the fact that most of the team are well into the second half of their playing careers means there’s a well of experience and know-how from reaching the knockouts in previous tournaments.

Switzerland were the pot four side in seeding and are at their lowest ranking since 2012. However, their place in the standings is still 19th, putting them 20 places ahead of Scotland and seven ahead of Hungary.

The schedule of the games means they will likely have to get their points on the board early, and not want to rely on beating hosts Germany on matchday three. That puts a lot of focus on that second game against Scotland in Cologne, which looks to be vital to both sides’ hopes.

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