The name Switzerland brings to mind images of meadows and snow-clad mountains. Although they come from the land of glaciers, the members of the Swiss World Cup squad are doing their best to get adjusted to Qatar's extreme heat. On Friday, they attended a training session at the University of Doha's grounds. It was 10.45 am and the heat was increasingly turning unbearable. However, most of the squad members reached the training ground on time, and started doing some short passing drills. The four goalkeepers in the team were also seen fine-tuning their diving and catching skills.
The Swiss, who are drawn in Group G along with Brazil, are staying next to the base camp of Argentina. They were in Brazil's group in the previous edition of the tournament in Russia as well. They had held Selecao to a 1-1 draw before losing to Sweden in the round of 16. There are many reasons why Brazil will not be taking this Swiss team lightly. They arrived in Qatar after a string of good performances at continental events. In the 2020 Euro Cup, they knocked favourites France out of the tournament in a penalty shootout to set up a quarterfinal clash with Spain. Recently, in the Nation's League, they stunned both Spain and Portugal. They also held Italy to a 1-1 draw in a crucial game in the European qualifiers to seal their spot at the finals.
The Swiss squad features a high concentration of players from an immigrant background. The real strength of the team is the presence of many talented players who ply their trade in leagues across the world. Their captain Granit Xhaka plays for Arsenal in the English Premier League while vice-captain Xherdan Shaqiri is a key member of Major League Soccer club Chicago Fire. First-choice goalkeeper Yann Sommer plays for Bundesliga club Borussia Monchengladbach while forward Breel Embolo plays for French top division side AS Monaco.
As the Swiss team continued to train under the scorching sun, a posse of journalists surrounded team's media manager Sergio Affuso. Interestingly, all of them were from Brazil and part of the media contingent from the South American nation covering the World Cup. They wanted to know why Xhaka and Shaqiri did not turn up for training. Evidently, even the Brazilian media is not taking Switzerland lightly!