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Rediff.com  » Sports » Penpix of Switzerland's World Cup squad

Penpix of Switzerland's World Cup squad

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May 29, 2006 20:13 IST

Switzerland's squad for the World Cup finals in Germany comprises the following 23 players:

(Statistics up to and including May 25 2006)

GOALKEEPERS

1-Pascal Zuberbuehler (FC Basel) Born: 8.1.71. Caps: 37. Goals: 0

Finally secured his place as Switzerland's regular keeper following the retirement of former team skipper Joerg Stiel after Euro 2004. Impressed during Switzerland's 0-0 draw in Paris but was lampooned in the Swiss media after a costly mistake in the return leg and a further howler during Switzerland's 3-1 win away to Cyprus. Helped to take Basel to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup, but attracted more criticism when he conceded four goals during the second leg in Middlesbrough.

21-Fabio Coltorti (Grasshoppers Zurich) Born: 3.12.80. Caps: 1. Goals: 0  

Zuberbuehler's as yet untested deputy could still take over as Switzerland's regular goalie although coach Koebi Kuhn has so far ignored calls for a change. Coltorti played a key role in FC Thun's second-place league finish last season before being snapped up by Grasshoppers. Made international debut in March 1 friendly win over Scotland.

12-Diego Benaglio (CD Nacional, Portugal) Born: 8.9.83. Caps: 0. Goals: 0

A late contender to challenge for the third goalie position, Switzerland's former under-21 keeper has blossomed since moving from VfB Stuttgart's amateur side directly into the Portuguese top division with Nacional.

DEFENDERS

3-Ludovic Magnin (VfB Stuttgart, Germany) Born: 20.4.79. Caps: 27. Goals: 2

One of Switzerland's best assets during the qualifying campaign, Magnin is a left-back who loves going forward. Part of the Swiss team that reached the semi-finals of the under-21 European Championship in 2002, Magnin has also emerged as a threat at set pieces -- traditionally a weak point for the Swiss -- scoring from a free kick against France in October and setting up Philippe Senderos in November's first-leg playoff against Turkey.

17-Christoph Spycher (Eintracht Frankfurt, Germany) Born: 30.03.78. Caps: 19. Goals: 0

Favoured in the left-back position for matches where a more defensive approach was required, Spycher attracted less attention than the more overtly passionate Magnin, but has impressed enough to warrant a place in the World Cup squad. Can also play in left midfield.

20-Patrick Mueller (Olympique Lyon, France) Born: 17.12.76. Caps: 62. Goals: 3

One of Switzerland's most experienced players and one of only three (alongside Zuberbuehler and Vogel) to have played through the entire qualifying campaign, Mueller has forged a formidable partnership with Philippe Senderos in the heart of the Swiss defence. Less physically imposing than the average central defender, Mueller relies strongly on pace and anticipation. Returned to former club Lyon from Basel in January as cover for the injured Cacapa and is now fighting for a first-team place following the Brazilian's recovery.

4-Philippe Senderos (Arsenal, England) Born: 14.2.85. Caps: 10. Goals: 2

Captained Switzerland to success in the 2002 under-17 European Championship and has since enjoyed a rapid rise through the senior ranks. Signed by Arsenal after hearing offers from a host of top European clubs, the uncompromising young defender received his first senior international cap against France only in March 2005 but has missed only one match (through illness) since. A precise tackler who is also strong in the air.

13-Stephane Grichting (AJ Auxerre, France) Born: 30.3.79. Caps: 3. Goals: 0

A central defender who can also play on the left, Grichting failed to make it off the bench during qualifying. He did however see some unwanted 'action' in November when he was injured during the brawl that followed Switzerland's playoff win in Istanbul. Flying out of Turkey with a catheter temporarily installed, Grichting said he wondered if he had chosen the right profession. A World Cup call-up might help to restore his faith in the game.

2-Johan Djourou (Arsenal, England) Born 18.1.87. Caps: 1. Goals: 0

After starting out as a midfielder, the imposing (1.91 metres) Djourou is emerging as a convincing central defender both for club and country. A joint Ivory Coast-Swiss national, Djourou made headlines when he was snapped up by Arsene Wenger at the age of 16, following just one year in Switzerland's third division with Geneva side Etoile Carouge.

23-Philipp Degen (Borussia Dortmund, Germany) Born: 15.2.83. Caps: 12. Goals: 0

Called into the Swiss side as emergency cover for former regular Berndt Haas, Degen has adapted well to international football and seems to have curbed his earlier tendency for over-enthusiasm. Says he must improve his positional play and ability to defend in the air, but is likely to receive a starting place at the finals.

19-Valon Behrami (Lazio, Italy) Born: 19.4.85. Caps: 4. Goals: 1

Already described in the national media as "Switzerland's David Beckham", Behrami is a highly-talented and quick-thinking defender whose willingness to attack was rewarded with a playoff goal against Turkey in November -- just three minutes after coming on as a substitute. Fleeing his Kosovo birthplace with his family at the age of four, Behrami could have chosen to play for Albania but was successfully courted by the Swiss following his rapid rise into the Lazio first team.

MIDFIELDERS

6-Johann Vogel (AC Milan, Italy) Born: 8.3.77 Caps: 82. Goals: 2

Switzerland's captain and most experienced player, Vogel enjoyed a memorable 2005 with World Cup qualification following hot on the heels of his move from PSV Eindhoven to AC Milan. Though not always in the starting line-up at the Serie A club, Vogel showed no signs of rustiness while playing through every minute of Switzerland's campaign. The defensive base on which Switzerland's midfield diamond rests, Vogel has occasionally been criticised for playing too defensively.

15-Blerim Dzemaili (FC Zurich) Born 12.4.86. Caps: 1. Goals: 0

An able deputy for Vogel, the 20-year-old Swiss-Macedonian joint national made his international debut during Switzerland's 3-1 win over Scotland in March. Has played a key role in FC Zurich's impressive domestic campaign as they challenged serial champions FC Basel for the Swiss title.

8-Raphael Wicky (SV Hamburg, Germany) Born: 26.4.77. Caps: 64. Goals: 1

One of only two Swiss players (alongside Vogel) to have featured in the country's Euro 96 squad, Wicky will be favoured for the left wing position in Germany so long as he can shake off recent injury problems. After recovering from a strained right calf muscle in April, Wicky promptly managed to tear muscle fibre in his left calf.

16-Tranquillo Barnetta (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany) Born: 22.5.85. Caps: 11. Goals: 1

A member of the Swiss under-17 European Championship winning side, Barnetta has made the step up to senior football with astonishing confidence. Lends dynamism and creativity to the Swiss midfield and can operate in central midfield, either wing and even in defence. Scored his first international goal during Switzerland's 3-1 friendly win over Scotland on March 1.

7-Ricardo Cabanas (1FC Cologne, Germany) Born: 17.1.79. Caps: 34. Goals: 4

Most threatening in the role of playmaker behind two strikers, Cabanas is another player to have stepped up from the 2002 under-21 side. The former Grasshoppers Zurich captain impressed during the playoff games with Turkey and is likely to play a pivotal role in Germany.

5-Xavier Margairaz (FC Zurich) Born: 7.1.84. Caps: 1. Goals: 0

Impressed on his debut against the Faroe Islands in June last year, turning around an indifferent Swiss performance after coming on for the last 22 minutes. Was plagued by injuries in the autumn, but has made a strong impression in the playmaker position as FC Zurich challenged Basel for the Swiss league title.

10-Daniel Gygax (Lille, France) Born: 28.8.81. Caps: 20. Goals: 4

Enjoying the challenge of life at Lille, Gygax seems to have benefited from the constant squad and placement rotation practised by club coach Claude Puel. Asked by Puel to work harder on his defensive work, the attacking midfielder has clearly impressed Swiss coach Kuhn, who fielded Gygax in 10 of the 12 World Cup qualifiers. Played with Cabanas, Magnin, Frei, Streller, Rochat and Grichting in the Swiss under-21 side that reached the 2001 European Championship semi-finals.

14-David Degen (FC Basel) Born: 15.2.83. Caps: 0. Goals: 0

Degen received his call up mainly because of his versatility. Primarily a right winger, the older of the Degen twins (by 20 minutes) can also play up front and could therefore offer emergency cover for Switzerland's already thin strike force.

FORWARDS

9-Alex Frei (Stade Rennes, France) Born: 15.7.79. Caps: 42. Goals: 23

The state of Frei's fitness has been a major talking point in Switzerland since the country's top goalscorer was forced to undergo an operation on a niggling groin injury in February. So long as he recovers in time, however, the Basel-born striker will once again be at the centre of Swiss expectations. Although briefly vilified following his expulsion from Euro 2004 for an uncharacteristic spitting incident, the 26-year-old has quickly won his way back into the country's hearts.

22-Johan Vonlanthen (NAC Breda, Netherlands) Born: 1.2.86. Caps: 17. Goals: 5

Like Frei, Vonlanthen relies strongly on his pace to surge through opposition defences and even outshines Switzerland's top scorer when it comes to technical ability. Made a name for himself at Euro 2004 when he scored against France to become the competition's youngest ever goalscorer -- breaking a record set by England's Wayne Rooney just four days earlier. Currently on loan at Breda from PSV Eindhoven and injured himself shortly before the finals in training, prompting Kuhn to ask Hakan Yakin to stand by as a possible replacement.

11-Marco Streller (1FC Cologne, Germany) Born: 18.6.81. Caps: 8. Goals: 1

Vonlanthen's main rival to partner Frei upfront, Streller has a clear height advantage -- at 1.95 metres, he is 20 cms taller than Vonlanthen -- and is surprisingly skilful for someone so big. Was unlucky to miss out on Euro 2004 after breaking his leg during a pre-tournament training session and has also been troubled by more recent injury problems including a build-up of blood on his knee in April.

Slid home the late goal against Turkey to send the Swiss through to the finals. Currently on loan from Stuttgart to Cologne.

18-Mauro Lustrinelli (Sparta Prague, Czech Republic) Born: 26.2.76. Caps: 5. Goals: 0

A latecomer to the national side, and to professional football in general, Lustrinelli decided on a career in sport only at 23 after finishing a diploma course in economics. Six years later, he received his first international cap -- having finally come to national attention during Thun's shock qualification for the Champions League. After suffering an unexpected defeat at the hands of the Swiss underdogs during the competition's group stage, Sparta Prague were impressed enough to sign him up themselves.

Source:
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