Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic, on Monday, said his World Cup squad might not be the best individuals, but who complemented each other best as he unveiled his final 23.
Goalkeeper Gregor Kobel, defender Silvan Widmer and midfielder Edimilson Fernandes were cut from an original 26-man squad.
“The list is not composed of the best 23 individuals, but of players who complement each other and can get along over a long period on and off the pitch,” Petkovic said.
If Switzerland are to spend much time in Russia they will have to get out of a Group featuring a strong Costa Rica, Serbia and Neymar’s Brazil.
Encouragingly, the Swiss drew 1-1 with Spain on Sunday and have one last friendly before the finals against Japan on Friday.
Facts about Switzerland (Group E)
Past World Cup performance: 11th participation. Best result: Quarter-finals in 1934, 1938 and 1954
FIFA ranking: Sixth
Main clubs: Basel, Young Boys, FC Zurich.
Nickname: Schweizer Nati (German), La Nati (French), Squadra Nazionale (Italian).
How they qualified: Finished second behind Portugal in their group, defeated Northern Ireland 1-0 in the playoffs.
Coach: Vladimir Petkovic
A surprise choice when appointed to take over the Switzerland post from the widely respected Ottmar Hitzfeld in 2014, former charity shop worker Vladimir Petkovic trod an unlikely path to international management.
Born in the former Yugoslavia, Petkovic began his playing career with his home town team FK Sarajevo before emigrating to Switzerland in 1987, turning out mostly in the lower leagues before retiring 12 years later.
He juggled coaching with a full-time job in a shop run by Caritas, the Catholic charity for the poor, from 2003 to 2008, leading Bellinzona, in the country’s Italian-speaking Ticino region, to promotion to the top flight and a cup final.
He landed his first prominent managerial role at Young Boys, and a short spell in Turkey followed, before Lazio came calling in 2012, with Petkovic guiding the club to the Coppa Italia in his debut season after victory over city rivals Roma in the final.
Lazio owner Claudio Lotito admitted Petkovic’s Caritas experience factored into his hiring, explaining at the time that he wanted his players “to be nourished spiritually”.
Switzerland World Cup squad
Roman Burki, Yvon Mvogo, Yann Sommer; Manuel Akanji, Johan Djourou, Nico Elvedi, Michael Lang, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Jacques-Francois Moubandje, Ricardo Rodriguez, Fabian Schaer; Valon Behrami, Blerim Dzemaili, Gelson Fernandes, Remo Freuler, Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka, Steven Zuber, Denis Zakaria; Josip Drmic, Breel Embolo, Mario Gavranovic, Haris Seferovic.
Fixtures and kick-off times
All times SAST.
Sunday, 17 June, 20:00: Brazil vs Switzerland
Friday, 22 June, 20:00: Serbia vs Switzerland
Wednesday, 27 June, 20:00: Switzerland vs Costa Rica