Group E: Switzerland – World Cup Betting Odds & Tips
The Swiss are a perennial presence at major tournaments and in recent times they’ve shown themselves to be capable of big performances at this level. Eight years ago in South Africa they stunned eventual winners Spain with a 1-0 success in their tournament opener, whilst last time in Brazil they were within around 90 seconds of taking Argentina to penalties before Angel di Maria netted the only goal of their second-round tussle.
Bosnian-born coach Vladimir Petkovic took charge of the Swiss national team following that 2014 World Cup and he successfully steered them to Euro 2016, where they went out in the last-16 of that tournament.
In qualifying for Russia, the Swiss had the unwanted distinction of winning their first nine games before a 2-0 loss again European champions Portugal consigned them to second spot and the playoffs. On reflection, a group that contained Hungary, the Faroe Islands, Latvia and Andorra could only be described as weak.
That feeling was backed up by a shaky performance in their two-legged playoff tie with Northern Ireland, where Petkovic’s side had only a controversially awarded Ricardo Rodriguez penalty in the first leg to show over 180 minutes.
The Swiss have a glamour game to open their campaign as they face Brazil on June 17 in Rostov-On-Don before an all-European showdown with Serbia in Kaliningrad five days later.
They end their Group E journey on June 27 against Costa Rica in Nizhny Novgorod. A 2-0 win over Portugal in their opening qualifier was the undoubted high for Switzerland during the road to Russia. Arguably, the newly-crowned European kings had taken their eye off the ball and it remains open to debate whether or not the Swiss will prove as dangerous away from the intimidating atmosphere of St. Jakob-Park in Basel.
Certainly, they were held at arm’s length fairly easily in their trip to Lisbon in October as they lost 2-0 against the Portuguese when a draw would have secured automatic qualification.
Admir Mehmedi of Bayer Leverkusen is a capable goalscorer but a lot of Swiss hopes will rest on the enigmatic shoulders of Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri. The 26-year-old is a real goal threat when he’s on song, evidenced four years ago in Brazil when he fired a treble against Honduras in the decisive group stage game.
Shaqiri is the archetypal ‘hot and cold’ talent that could make or break Switzerland’s World Cup this summer. Petkovic’s side are rank outsiders at 8.50 to win their opening game against Brazil but they’ll have major designs on matchday two and what may be a decisive tussle with Serbia.
A positive outcome from that game could see them headed for the last-16 for the fourth time in five attempts since USA ’94.