The Swiss have been all over the place recently with their play. A good outing here, a poor outing there; a disinterested outing here, an okay outing there. You never know what you are going to get lately with Ottmar Hitzfeld's club.
They played well in qualifying for the World Cup, but ever since they have had no consistency. They had two disappointing losses recently, to Uruaguay and Costa Rica. However, this past weekend, in their final warm up before the World Cup, they played well and often inspired in a draw with Italy, 1-1.
The match with Italy was played on home soil in Geneva before a rousing and supportive crowd. The Swiss scored early on a 25 yard strike from Udinese's Gokhan Inler. Italy tied it up just a few minutes later on a goal by Fabio Quaglirella.
The Swiss controlled large chunks of the game, especially in the first half, and had some good scoring chances. Although Italy played better in the second half, Switzerland still had three very good scoring chances late in the game.
As far as Italy goes, as disappointing as this game was for them, they can look at one strange piece of info from this game for comfort. In 1982 and 2006 Italy played Switzerland in a warm up game right before the World Cup. Both times, just as this year, the two teams tied 1-1.
In 1982 and 2006 Italy went on to win the World Cup.
The Swiss find themselves grouped with powerhouse Spain in Group 'H'. Even playing as well as they did Saturday, it is unlikely Switzerland can get a result in this game. If they are to have any hope against Spain it would come in playing a strong defense and making the most of their set pieces, as well as some counter attack opportunities late, if they can keep it scoreless or stay within a goal.
Realistically, it is the other two games that the Swiss need to get results out of. More than likely they will have to beat Honduras and then hope to either draw or beat Chile and hope to advance ahead.
In both these games the Swiss can be more of an attacking force than they are likely going to try and be (or be able to be) versus Spain. Spain would burn them if they tried that approach for any sustained amount of time, but Chile and Honduras are not as likely to make them pay.
Chile seems to be playing well heading into the tournament, while Honduras is struggling against lesser opponents.
The Swiss are not likely to win any games 3-2, or 4-3. They have to play strong defense. 1-0 is the kind of outcome they need to be looking for.
31-year-old captain Alexander Frei is still the backbone of the Swiss offensive attack. He scored two goals four years ago in Germany, he has fully recovered from a broken arm and is well rested.
The order of games is important for Switzerland.
They play Spain first, which might be the best thing for them. Get it out of the way and over with.
Game two will be against Chile, and this figures to be the most important outcome for them.
They wrap up against Honduras, and in the best case scenario a draw versus Honduras may get them through if they are able to beat Chile in the previous game.
Four years ago in Germany, Switzerland advanced out of the group stage without conceding a goal. They made need to repeat this feat if they are to advance in 2010.