Football – Commentary: Yakin’s Switzerland put to the test


At the 2022 World Cup, Switzerland will face Brazil, Serbia and Cameroon in the first round. Very difficult draw. Challenge to the height.

Murat Yakin (center) and the Swiss delegation will have a lot to do in Qatar.

Toto Marti/fresh focus

In absolute terms, Gianni Infantino may well be right. The all-powerful FIFA boss, a new resident of Doha, has been saying for a long time and in recent days even more emphatically that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be “the greatest of all time”.

Fifth participation in a row

We must undoubtedly sit on morality, human rights, those of the workers who built the stadiums and many of whom paid for it with their lives, but yes, in an absolute cynicism that would only stop at the edges of the pitch, even if it air conditioned in the middle of the desert, there will be arguably the greatest football world cup of all time. A World Cup that takes place from November 21 to December 18. With international players who for the most part will only have two or three months of competition under their feet and not a whole full season. In terms of sporting promise alone, something strong is announced.

This must also exist for the Swiss team. After 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018, this is the fifth consecutive participation of the Swiss selection in the final phase of the world tournament. For those who think it’s a given to qualify five times in a row in the last five qualifiers, we remind you that Switzerland outperforms Belgium, the Netherlands, Uruguay and dozens of others. Including Italy of course, absent in 2018 and eliminated from the play-off this year after finishing behind Switzerland in qualifying. In fact, on the planet of football, there are only eleven teams besides Switzerland that have qualified for the last five Worlds, from 2006 to 2022. In Europe, there are only Germany, England, Spain, France and Portugal that have done so. This produces a performance, in its regularity.

Change of mindset

The performance is there, completely. Inevitably we get greedy, we believe that is the minimum to qualify. It’s good, it indicates a change of mindset. Some even think that a round of 16 elimination is a failure. Here it is more complicated. But that’s what Vladimir Petkovic had to deal with for seven years, despite the exceptional results.

It is now Murat Yakin who faces his fate. Switzerland has become this little football country that dreams big and these dreams are so much fiction for those who don’t bring them to life. Yakin is the providential man of last fall. He comes to succeed Petkovic, lost in Bordeaux, he inherits a private team of several executives, including the main one – Granit Xhaka – but he qualifies Switzerland in first place in the group, ahead of Italy, with the result that we know today for the Transalpines. Exploiting capital.

The League of Nations in June

But it is in 2022 that the new coach must establish his prestige. He started the year with a defeat in England and a mediocre draw against Kosovo: nobody can stop him. In June and September there is the League of Nations: prepare well. However, it is at the end of the year, in Qatar, that he is really expected. The minimum target is a round of 16. It would be just as good as in 2006, 2014 and 2018. After the quarter-finals at Euro 2020 and this place in the semi-finals that only disappeared after penalties against Spain, there is inevitably fervent hope on the little extra. It is this pressure that Murat Yakin has to face. It’s fireproof.

It is served. As in 2018, Switzerland is in Brazil’s group. It was a team to avoid… Just like in 2018, in this group G, Switzerland was joined by Serbia, one of the most dangerous teams in hat 3. Disturbing facial expressions, coupled with all the unease that had surrounded this Switzerland-Serbia, for the political tensions it enveloped and the unhealthy pressures placed on Swiss players of Albanian or Kosovar descent. In response, this double-headed eagle, shaped with the fingers by Xhaka and Shaqiri, the two goalscorers of the victory. The reunion will be tough. If we add Cameroon to the list, there is one of the most complicated draws for Switzerland.

Formidable opponents

It will be an opportunity four years later to see where Switzerland stands, that of Yakin. Against Brazil, Switzerland started with a draw (1-1) in Rostov-sur-le-Don. She continued with a win over Serbia in Kaliningrad (2-1). Before allowing a draw against Costa Rica in Novgorod (2-2). With Cameroon it is the size bigger, but there were no defeats to reach the knockout stage.

Murat Yakin is therefore fixated on his opponents. They are all formidable, the challenge is immense. It was also for Petkovic. It’s up to him to take up the challenge now. If Switzerland really took a step forward at the European Championship last summer, it should show it in Qatar. And it is now up to the new coach to write his story, the players must continue to do so with him. This group G is undoubtedly very complicated. That is precisely why the opportunity is great to show that Switzerland has a new status.

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