Switzerland manager Ottmar Hitzfeld unveiled his squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, with his 23-man list tallying with pundits' forecasts. The German veteran, due to wind up his management career after the tournament, stuck to the strategy of mixing experience and youth that helped put the Swiss among the top seeds for the World Cup.
Hitzfeld's squad hails mainly from the German, Italian and Swiss top flights. Among his biggest names from the Bundesliga are stalwart goalkeeper Diego Benaglio, of Wolfsburg, and young star marksman Xherdan Shaqiri, of Bayern Munich. From Serie A, meanwhile, Hitzfeld tapped a trio of Napoli midfielders, Valon Behrami, Blerim Dzemaili and Gokhan Inler. There were two notable absences on his list, however.
Bayer Leverkusen striker Eren Derdiyok had been widely expected to pay the price for his lack of Bundesliga action. But the failure to call up midfielder Pajtim Kasami, of freshly relegated English club Fulham, was a surprise given his solid performance during the World Cup qualifiers, his Switzerland debut. Both Derdiyok and Kasami fell foul of Hitzfeld's decision to pick two players for each position.
They nonetheless remain on his seven-man reserve list ready to jump in if any of the main picks are injured before the 2 June deadline to provide FIFA with the definitive World Cup squad. Hitzfeld's decision to have two options per position reopened the door to the squad for defender Reto Ziegler, of Italian club Sassuolo, set to be the alternative option for Wolfsburg's Ricardo Rodriguez on the left wing.
Switzerland are top seeds in Group E, which also includes France, Honduras and Ecuador. They open their World Cup campaign against Ecuador on 15 June in Brasilia's Estadio Nacional, before facing France on 20 June and Honduras on 25 June. Before travelling to Brazil, they have inked in two friendlies at home, taking on Jamaica on May 30 and Peru on June 3.
Goalkeepers: Diego Benaglio (Wolfsburg/GER), Roman Buerki (Grasshopper), Yann Sommer (Basel)
Defenders: Johan Djourou (Hamburg/GER), Michael Lang (Grasshopper), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus/ITA), Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Fabian Schaer (Basel), Philippe Senderos (Valencia/ESP), Steve von Bergen (Young Boys), Reto Ziegler (Sassuolo/ITA)
Midfielders: Tranquillo Barnetta (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER), Valon Behrami (Napoli), Blerim Dzemaili (Napoli), Gelson Fernandes (Freiburg/GER), Goekhan Inler (Napoli), Xherdan Shaqiri (Bayern Munich/GER), Valentin Stocker (Basel)
Forwards: Josip Drmic (Nurnberg/GER), Mario Gavranovic (Zurich), Admir Mehmedi (Freiburg), Haris Seferovic (Real Sociedad/ESP), Granit Xhaka (Borussia Moenchengladbach/GER)
Goalkeeper: Marwin Hitz (Augsburg/GER)
Defenders: Timm Klose (Wolfsburg), Silvan Widmer (Udinese/ITA)
Midfielders and forwards: Eren Derdiyok (Bayer Leverkusen/GER), Fabian Frei (Basel), Pajtim Kasami (Fulham/ENG), Pirmin Schwegler (Eintracht Frankfurt)
* Squad lists are only official once they have been confirmed and published by FIFA on 16 May at 12:00 CET.