Switzerland squad for World Cup Playoff vs. Northern Ireland


Switzerland were one of the best teams during World Cup Qualifying, winning nine games and losing just once, but that one defeat to Portugal has left them needing a Playoff victory over Northern Ireland to book a spot for Russia next year.

Vladimir Petkovic’s side epitomised the importance of having a balanced squad during qualifying, relying on no individual source of goals with 14 different scorers – only Germany had a wider spread of goalscorers in European qualifying.

Switzerland have struggled to replace all-time leading goalscorer Alexander Frei since his retirement in 2011. His 10-year spell with the national team yielded 42 goals from 84 appearances, a tally which is best-matched by Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri, who has 20 from 65 appearances.

Experienced centre-half Johan Djourou, who made seven appearances in World Cup Qualifying, has been ruled out with a knee problem, while Udinese midfielder Valon Behrami survived an injury scare to land a spot in the 24-man squad.

Premier League trio Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri and Edimilson Fernandes have all been included, while skipper Stephan Lichtsteiner will lead the way when Switzerland travel to Belfast on Thursday.

Switzerland will have the home advantage in Sunday’s second leg at St. Jakob-Park.

Switzerland World Cup Playoff Squad

Goalkeepers: Roman Burki, Marin Hitz, Yann Sommer

Defenders: Manuel Akanji, Nico Elvedi, Leo Lacroix, Michael Lang, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Ricardo Rodriguez, Fabian Schar

Midfielders: Valon Behrami, Blerim Dzemaili, Edimilson Fernandes, Gelson Fernandes, Fabian Frei, Granit Xhaka, Denis Lemi Zakaria, Steven Zuber, Remo Freuler

Forwards: Breel Embolo, Haris Seferovic, Xherdan Shaqiri, Mario Gavranovic, Admir Mehmedi


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