Switzerland provides a good illustration of the fact that everyone can play football in the 21st century and that there are no bad teams left in international competitions. Between 1970 and 2000, this small country managed to qualify for the World Cup just once - in 1994. Since 2006, they have played regularly at the World Cup and have almost always reached the playoffs.
Switzerland is arguably the alma mater of continental football. It was from here that the new game started to spread from the UK to mainland Europe at the end of the 19th century. Supposedly Europe's first football club outside the UK was the Lausanne Football and Cricket Club. Later on, the graduates of Switzerland's elite schools brought the game home with them.
Switzerland made it to the round of 16 at the World Cup in 2006, 2014 and 2018, and played in the quarterfinals of Euro 2020.
The team qualified for the tournament with confidence, finishing first in a group that also included Italy, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria and Lithuania. Switzerland had two draws against the Italians and one against Northern Ireland, then won the rest of the matches, conceding just two goals in total.
Just before the start of the 2022 World Cup, Switzerland are 15th in the FIFA rankings.
According to ESPN journalists, midfield duo Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) and Remo Freuler (Nottingham Forest) will play a key role at the World Cup. The vulnerability of Switzerland may be in attack, and it is not a new problem for the team. In past years, the Swiss have lacked forwards with the quality of their midfielders, such as Xherdan Shaqiri and Gökhan Inler.
The experienced Haris Seferovic (Galatasaray), 22-year-old Noah Okafor (Salzburg) and Breel Embolo (Monaco) are claimed for a place in the attack. The former Bayern Munich and Liverpool midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, 31, who transferred to MLS this season, is likely to be in the starting line-up.
Switzerland have a strong group, with Brazil, who are the main favourites to win the World Cup, Serbia and Cameroon.
It will be extremely difficult to take any points from the Brazilians, so Switzerland should rely on beating Serbia first. The bookmakers estimate the chances that Brazil will advance to the playoffs as almost 100%, while the Swiss and Serbs are around 50%, but the Swiss have a slightly higher chance.
Switzerland are lucky to start the tournament with a match against Cameroon and can get 3 points and an emotional boost straight away. Cameroon failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and lost all three matches in the group stage in 2014. According to bookmakers, the Africans' chances of qualifying for the round of 16 are below 25%.
The match between Serbia and Switzerland will be the last game in the group and is likely to decide who will play in the playoffs.