Switzerland

Population: 8.1 million

Area: 41,285 sq km

Capital: Berne

Currency: Swiss Franc

Federation: Association Suisse de Football (ASF) founded in 1895, affiliated to FIFA in 1904

Registered players: 232,700

Kit colours: Red shirts with white trim, white shorts, red socks

Team nickname: The Schweizer Nati (The Swiss National Team)

World Cup record: quarter-finalist (1934, 1938, 1954), second round (1994, 2006), first round (1950, 1962, 1966, 2010)

European Championship appearances: 3 (1996, 2004, 2008)

European Championship record: first round (1996, 2004, 2008)

How they qualified for FIFA World Cup 2014: Won Europe zone group E with 24pts ahead of Iceland (17), Slovenia (15), Norway (12), Albania (11) Cyprus (5), 7 wins, 3 draws, 0 defeats, 17 goals for and 6 against.

Top clubs: FC Basel, Grasshoppers Zurich, Servette Geneva, FC Zurich

A youthful, ambitious and multi-cultural Swiss side will be brimming with confidence in Brazil, their third straight finals and tenth ever, after an impressive qualifying campaign.

Last time out Switzerland caused a shock by beating eventuak winners Spain 1-0 in their opener, but were then beaten by Chile and could only draw with Honduras as Spain and Chile went through to the second round with six points each.

Their German coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, winner of the European Champions League with Dortmund and Bayern Munich, has been running the ‘Nati’, as the Swiss call their national football team, since 2008.

After the painful exit in Africa and failure to qualify for Euro 2012 he brought in a new set of faces. Although the goals were sparse they cruised past Iceland, Slovenia, Norway, Albania and Cyprus to win their group with plenty to spare.

Hitzfeld builds from a central back line of Steve Von Bergen, assisted either by Johan Djourou or Fabian Schär with Stephan Lichtsteiner also operating as wing back, while Diego Benaglio is a solid, trusty goalkeeper.

Midfield is their area of strength with their captain Gökhan Inler and the star of the team Xherdan Shaqiri backed up by a quartet of other quality men in Valon Behrami, Granit Xhaka, Tranquillo Barnetta and Valentin Stocker.

Time finally caught up with centre-forward menace Alexander Frei and the Swiss are having a hard time adapting to life without him. Hitzfeld also eventually left out his lone striker option Eren Derdiyok due to lack of first team football in Germany, leaving the way clear for strikers Haris Seferovic and Mario Gavranovic.

As a mark of the quality, many of the Swiss ply their trade in Germany. Shaqiri plays at Bayern Munich, Benaglio and Rodriguez at Wolfsburg, Barnetta at Frankfurt, Xhaka at Moenchengladbach. Inler and Behrami play at Serie A pace setters Napoli, with Lichtsteiner at Juventus.

The heart of the side is also young with Xhaka and Rodriguez still just 21 and Shaqiri, Schär and Seferovic 22. And for the first time the teams make-up is an accurate reflection of the ethnically diverse neighborhoods where grass roots football thrives. Djourou was born in Ivory Coast, Rodriguez has Chilean roots, Inler and Derdiyok are of Turkish extraction and Behrami, Xhaka and Shaqiri are ethnic Albanians.

And after Switzerland had beaten Albania away from home, Brehami told TV he was very proud to be Swiss.

In August 2013 this melting-pot-style Swiss team beat Brazil 1-0 in Basel, a result that allows the fans to dream a little of those runs to the quarter-final back in 1934, 1938 and 1954. Johan Djourou insists that this is a golden generation, and that Switzerland will take full advantage of that.

AFP

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