The Switzerland national team are out to prove a point. The Swiss won their opening group match 2-1 against Ecuador, but suffered a 5-2 defeat by the hands of the French. Despite the loss, the Swiss made a strong comeback against Honduras, winning the match 3-0. Bayern Munich winger Xherdan Shaqiri scored a hat-trick in this match. After ending their group stage with six points, Switzerland secured the second spot of Group E. The Swiss are up against Argentina in the Round-of-16.
Population: 8.1 million
Area: 41,285 km2
Currency: Swiss Franc
Federation: Association Suisse de Football (ASF) founded in 1895, affiliated to FIFA in 1904.
Registered players: 232,700
Colours: Red shirts with white trim, white shorts, red socks.
World Cup appearances: 10 (1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1994, 2006, 2010, 2014).
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: 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.
Key players: Steve von Bergen, Gökhan Inler, Valon Behrami, Xherdan Shaqiri
Coach: Ottmar Hitzfeld (since July 2008).
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.