"Little" Switzerland still have "big dreams" at the FIFA World Cup™ despite their loss against France, according to midfielders Blerim Dzemaili and Granit Xhaka. After needing a late winner against Ecuador to seal a 2-1 victory in their opening game, the Swiss were defeated 5-2 by France in Salvador last Friday to leave them third in Group E.
But even so, their chances of reaching the Round of 16 remain wide open ahead of their clash with Honduras in Manaus on Wednesday, when Ecuador face France in Rio de Janeiro. In a group open to a wide number of permutations, Switzerland could conceivably go through despite a defeat or be knocked-out even though they win.
But a victory would at least improve their chances of reaching the Round of 16, and avoid the fate that has already befallen the likes of England, Spain and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Dzemaili, who scored the first of two late consolation goals against France, says they need to produce a team performance.
You shouldn't forget that we are little Switzerland.
"Everyone can nurture big dreams, but first we have to do a little homework and that is to beat Honduras," said the 28-year-old. "We have seen that the big teams just relying on individuals are quickly eliminated, which little Switzerland can't afford. We have to give our all together, like we did against France, but we also had some bad luck after they scored their early goals."
Xhaka admits they failed to deal with rising expectations after breezing through their qualifying campaign and rising to sixth in the FIFA world rankings.
"I do not know if expectations were mounted from outside or from us," said the Borussia Monchengladbach attacking midfielder. "You shouldn't forget that we are little Switzerland and although we shouldn't hide from anyone, our first-half performances against Ecuador and France weren't good enough.
"We played better in the second half of both games, but we need to play well over the 90 minutes."