10 Things You Need to Know About Ottmar Hitzfeld's Switzerland

James McNicholas@@jamesmcnicholasFeatured ColumnistJune 1, 2014

10 Things You Need to Know About Ottmar Hitzfeld's Switzerland

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    Switzerland are coming to the World Cup intending to do far more than just make up the numbers.

    Led by the wily Ottmar Hitzeld, this youthful side hope to take advantage of their favourable draw to make a significant impact in Brazil.

    Over the coming slides, we give you the key facts you need to familiarise yourself with the Swiss squad.

They Qualified in Style

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    Switzerland put together an incredibly impressive qualifying campaign. They topped European Group E, remaining unbeaten in their 10 games. Although it wasn't a particularly strong group, their consistency was admirable.

The Draw Has Been Kind

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    Finishing top of their qualification group worked out well for Switzerland. Their subsequent seeding enabled them to end up with a very favourable World Cup group. Neighbours France will be difficult opposition, but the Swiss will fancy their chances of emerging from the group above both Ecuador and Honduras.

Defence Is Their Strength

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    Switzerland hold a remarkable record of keeping nine clean sheets in their last 15 matches. That run includes a memorable 1-0 win over Brazil, which is testament to the resilience of their back line.

    Led by Stephan Lichtsteiner of Juventus, the Swiss defence is one of the most organised in international football.

This Is a Bright New Generation

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    Veteran manager Ottmar Hitzfeld has picked a youthful squad for this summer's tournament.

    He has a good reason to do so: Four years ago, Switzerland won the U-17 World Cup. The striker who scored the winning goal in that tournament, Haris Seferovic, is one several players to have since graduated to the senior setup.

We're Bidding Farewell to the General

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    Switzerland manager Ottmar Hitzfeld intends to retire after the World Cup. In doing so, he will bring the curtain down on a glorious managerial career that has entailed seven Bundesliga titles, two Champions League triumphs and plenty more medals besides.

Switzerland Are Weak in Attack

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    The Swiss attack hasn't recovered from the loss of Alexander Frei. Without him, they lack a clinical finisher.

    While Switzerland are tough to break down, they can be short on penetrative power going forward.

Josip Drmic Could Be the Surprise Star

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    Twenty-one-year-old forward Josip Drmic has only got a handful of international caps to his name, but he could be primed to make a major impact at the World Cup this summer.

    Drmic's 17 Bundesliga goals earned him a move to Bayer Leverkusen. Before joining up with his new team, he'll be eager to carry his domestic form on to the international stage.

Granit Xhaka Is Switzerland's Bastian Schweinsteiger

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    Kosovo-born midfielder Granit Xhaka plays for Borussia Monchengladbach, but he has earned comparisons with Bayern Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger. Like the German, he began his career as a sprightly winger but has since been converted to a central playmaker. Xhaka will be key to Switzerland's hopes this summer.

A Defender Could Be Their Biggest Goal Threat

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    Switzerland's top goalscorer in qualifying was centre-back Fabian Schaer, who netted three times.

    His power and heading ability make him a constant threat from set-pieces.

Xherdan Shaqiri Is Hoping to Emerge from the Shadows

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    At Bayern Munich, Xherdan Shaqiri is regularly forced to play second-fiddle to Arjen Robben. Like Robben, Shaqiri is a left-footed winger who prefers to cut in from the right.

    With the Swiss team, Shaqiri is an undisputed star. Without Robben there to take the limelight, Shaqiri will hope to make a name for himself this summer.