Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

Fixtures & Results

France FRA 2

Australia AUS 1

REPORT

Argentina ARG 1

Iceland ISL 1

REPORT

Peru PER 0

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REPORT

Croatia CRO 2

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REPORT

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REPORT

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REPORT

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REPORT

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Denmark DNK

Australia AUS

France FRA

Peru PER

Argentina ARG

Croatia CRO

Brazil BRA

Costa Rica CRI

Nigeria NGA

Iceland ISL

Serbia SRB

Switzerland SUI

Belgium BEL

Tunisia TUN

South Korea KOR

Mexico MEX

Germany GER

Sweden SWE

England ENG

Panama PAN

Japan JPN

Senegal SEN

Poland POL

Colombia COL

Saudi Arabia SAU

Egypt EGY

Uruguay URY

Russia RUS

Spain ESP

Morocco MAR

Iran IRN

Portugal POR

Denmark DNK

France FRA

Australia AUS

Peru PER

Iceland ISL

Croatia CRO

Nigeria NGA

Argentina ARG

Mexico MEX

Sweden SWE

South Korea KOR

Germany GER

Switzerland SUI

Costa Rica CRI

Serbia SRB

Brazil BRA

Senegal SEN

Colombia COL

Japan JPN

Poland POL

Panama PAN

Tunisia TUN

England ENG

Belgium BEL

Meet the opponents

 

By Staff Reporter

Switzerland face Northern Ireland in Belfast tonight hoping to gain an advantage in the first leg of the World Cup play-off clash. The Swiss are aiming to reach their fourth successive World Cup finals having been to each edition since last missing out in 2002. Here we run the rule over Vladimir Petkovic’s men.

Form

The Swiss had won all nine of their qualifiers before visiting Portugal in the final group game last month, when a 2-0 win for the Euro 2016 champions ensured they sealed top spot on goal difference. Switzerland exited Euro 2016 at the last-16 round — the same stage as Northern Ireland — though they did not lose a game inside 120 minutes in France, and England are the only other nation to beat them in a competitive fixture since Slovenia defeated them in October 2014.

Manager

Switzerland turned to Petkovic when Ottmar Hitzfeld retired after the 2014 World Cup. Petkovic was given a two-year contract extension over the summer thanks to his country’s perfect record in qualification. The Bosnia-born naturalised Swiss won the Coppa Italia with Lazio before taking the job and has previously held top club posts in Switzerland with Sion and Young Boys.

Tactics

Petkovic is expected to deploy a back four flanked by Serie A full-backs Ricardo Rodriguez and Stephan Lichtsteiner in a system that has fluctuated between 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1, with Haris Seferovic, their top scorer in the group stage with four goals, the central forward. Both Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka and Stoke’s Xherdan Shaqiri are relied upon to provide the creativity in midfield.

Players

The sometimes-maligned Xhaka, who has the most touches in the Premier League this season, is pivotal to his country’s fortunes while Stoke fans know Shaqiri is capable of moments of brilliance. Northern Irish boss Michael O’Neill also needs to worry about Lichtsteiner and Rodriguez, both of whom love to push on but Johan Djourou  is injured while ex-West Ham and Watford midfielder Valon Behrami is “highly unlikely” to feature because of a hamstring issue.

Belfast Telegraph

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