Switzerland Approach The Summit In The Latest FIFA World Rankings
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According to the latest FIFA World Rankings, Switzerland will approach the 2018 FIFA World Cup bracketed amongst the traditional favorites of Brazil, Germany and Argentina. Those are the only three nations above them in the latest August rankings. It’s easy to laugh at the Swiss opening up a sizable gap over the traditional European powers of France, Spain, Italy and England, but there’s no reason to not have them pegged as dark horses in Russia.
Basically, the FIFA rankings are rewarding them for an immaculate qualifying campaign, including a 2-0 victory over Portugal last September and a 3-2 win against Hungary in Budapest. Their perfect record of six wins from six matches sees them atop UEFA Group B with a three-point advantage over Portugal.
All signs point to a monumental clash between Portugal and Switzerland on October 10 in Lisbon to determine who qualifies directly for Russia and who must navigate the hellish playoff round, but the Swiss can match the reigning European champions in everything but possessing Cristiano Ronaldo (admittedly a large advantage for Portugal).
In goal, the Swiss have Borussia Monchengladbach No. 1 Yann Sommer. At the back, captain Stephan Lichtsteiner and the experienced Johan Djourou anchor a defense that allowed only two goals in four matches at Euro 2016.
Apart from 20-year-old talent Breel Embolo there’s not much to get excited about up top, but Xherdan Shaqiri offers enough of a threat from out wide to compensate for that.
Adding additional mettle to the side are midfielders Valon Behrami and Arsenal red card collector Granit Xhaka.
What all this adds up to for the Swiss is a side that might not be among the top 10 in the world talent-wise, but is definitely among the 10 hardest sides to actually defeat.
As Portugal and Wales showed at the European championship, this quality can be just as menacing as an attacking side like France or Germany.