5 Things for Switzerland to Take out of Their World Cup Group Stage Games
MANAUS — Xherdan Shaqiri's hat-trick against Honduras ensured that Switzerland could afford to look back at the 2014 World Cup group stage fondly, having qualified in second place.
However, Swiss progress was far from serene. There was the thumping against France and the anxiety-inducing drama of a last-minute winner against Ecuador.
In this piece, we focus on five things the Swiss can take forward to assist them in their assault on the knockout stages.
Philippe Senderos Is Not International Class
Introduced as a substitute against France, Philippe Senderos was an unmitigated disaster. It was no surprise to see him left out for the following game against Honduras.
Senderos is a brave and committed defender, but he lacks the speed of foot and thought required to thrive at international level.
Given how much he struggled to cope with Karim Benzema, the thought of Senderos facing off against Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero is almost too much to bear.
For the Swiss to hold out any hope of progression, Senderos must stay where he belongs on the bench.
Worryingly for Switzerland, their other former Arsenal centre-back, Johan Djourou, is almost guaranteed to start and has not fared much better.
Xherdan Shaqiri Can Deliver on the Big Stage
Switzerland's hopes were always going to rely heavily on the performances of Xherdan Shaqiri.
In their final group game, Shaqiri stepped up. The impish attacking midfielder bagged a brilliant hat-trick to put Honduras to the sword and send the Swiss through to the next round.
Ottmar Hitzfeld will be reassured to see that his star man can deliver when it counts. Now he'll look to repeat the impact against elite opposition.
Josip Drmic Needs Time but Is Worth Persisting with
It's easy to forget that Swiss star striker Josip Drmic is still only 21. The 2013/14 campaign was his breakout season, and he has since found himself thrust into the international limelight.
He hasn't always found it easy to flourish under the scrutiny. Drmic struggled in the opener with Ecuador, and he was dropped for the match against France.
However, he ran riot against Honduras.
He has a talent worth persisting with and the pace to trouble any defence. Ottmar Hitzfeld should stick with Drmic in the knockout phase.
Fabian Schar Should Be a Starter
Fabian Schar didn't start a game at this World Cup until the final match of the group stage. Having finally been given a chance, it's vital he keeps his spot.
An injury to Steve von Bergen, combined with Philippe Senderos' hapless display against France, handed Schar his opportunity against Honduras. He seized it with typical authority.
Schar is the best of Switzerland's available centre-backs and should remain in the team from now on.
The Swiss Can Score
During World Cup qualifying, Switzerland's top goalscorer was centre-back Fabian Schar.
However, at the tournament proper, they have shown a surprising nose for goal—netting seven times in the group stage. Their attack, featuring the likes of Josip Drmic and Xherdan Shaqiri, is youthful and exciting. Their best bet in the second round might be to target Argentina's suspect back line.