Switzerland go head-to-head with Portugal in their World Cup round of 16 tie on Tuesday evening.
When Murat Yakin announced his squad, he was so satisfied with the wealth of talent at his disposal that he said: “We were spoiled for choice.” The 26 which made the cut are now tasked with becoming the first Swiss side since 1938 to win a knockout match at the men’s World Cup.
Here’s the XI Yakin may select with history on the horizon.
GK: Yann Sommer – Switzerland’s agile number one made a tournament-high 21 saves at last year’s Euros. He’s only been forced into nine so far in Qatar.
RB: Silvan Widmer – Puts his success down to two things: “I know what I want, and I know what I can do.”
CB: Nico Elvedi – The solid, if unspectacular, centre-back is facing a race against time to recover from an illness ahead of the knockout rounds.
CB: Manuel Akanji – One of Akanji’s tattoos reads: “Prove them wrong”. A sentiment he has carried out since recovering from an ACL injury very early in his career.
LB: Ricardo Rodriguez – A veteran of four major tournaments, Rodriguez has missed just 33 minutes of football for Switzerland at the World Cups and Euros since 2014.
CM: Granit Xhaka – When his family returned from the infamous match which saw Xhaka booed by Arsenal’s fans, his career in north London seemingly over, his mum was the first one to speak. “So…” she began, “what do you want to eat?”
CM: Remo Freuler – A late bloomer, Freuler was known as “Mini” back in Zurich as he was always the smallest player on each team he lined up for.
AM: Djibril Sow – Coumba Sow, Djibril’s cousin, is an international for the Swiss women’s national team and scored against Portugal when the nations met in last summer’s European Championships.
RW: Xherdan Shaqiri – The only player in World Cup history to have scored a hat-trick comprising entirely of left-footed goals opened his account in Qatar against Serbia – with his left foot naturally.
ST: Breel Embolo – The Cameroon-born striker gave an update on his national leaning last year, admitting that he is “probably 60 or 70% Swiss now, even more so than I’m African”.
LW: Ruben Vargas – With a former international trampolinist as a mother and a semi-professional baseball player as a father, Vargas comes from sporting stock.
Harry Symeou hosts Andy Headspeath, Toby Cudworth & La Liga TV presenter Semra Hunter to look back on the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa – join us!
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