Switzerland quietly slip under the radar

Much has been made of the rise of Belgium’s golden generation, yet another European nation who are quietly going through their own boom have slipped largely under the radar. That team is Switzerland who have sneakily reached 14th slot in the world rankings and look well set to progress out of their World Cup qualifying group, albeit one of the weaker groups.

The Swiss over the last decade have been little more than also runs in International football, regularly making finals but struggling to get beyond the group stage whilst they failed to even qualify for Euro 2012.Yet behind the scenes they have been investing heavily in youth and the first signs of rewards from that were evident by their under 21 side finishing runners up to Spain in the 2011 European Championship.

That squad has spawned the talents of Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka who have both added creativity to a side that whist being solid were often found lacking in penetration, whilst the breakthrough of Valentin Stocker has further helped with this problem. These players added to the solid foundation formed by the likes of Gokhan Inler, Tanquilo Barnetta and Stephen Leichsteiner which gives them as strong of a side as they have had since the eary 90s. There are weaknesses for example they still lack a real quality striker with another youngster from that successful under 21 side Admir Mehmedi struggling to recreate his best form at international level, whilst Eren Derdiyok has not quite lived up to his promise.

You might also ask questions of the centre backs but if coach Ottmar Hitzfeld is good for one thing it is making his teams solid, so with that in mind and as has proved thus far he should be able to form more than a solid unit out of the tools at his disposal.

Now the Swiss are most definitely not going to win the World Cup that said reaching  the quarter finals should not be deemed unrealistic, for a nation who have not reached such a stage since 1938 that would represent a superb achievement.