Switzerland will face Cameroon at the Al Janoub Stadium on Thursday in their opening 2022 FIFA World Cup game.
The A-Team enjoyed a brilliant qualification campaign, going undefeated in their eight games and finishing atop the group table with 18 points. They were beaten 2-0 by Ghana in a friendly clash last time out and will be looking to bounce back here after a sub-par performance against the Black Stars.
Switzerland went unbeaten in the group stages of the 2018 World Cup and will be looking to replicate that this year.
Cameroon also performed well in their World Cup qualifiers, piping Ivory Coast to the top spot in their group with a 1-0 win over the Elephants. They then locked horns with Algeria in the playoffs, winning the two-legged tie on away goals.
No country relishes facing Switzerland in international competition.
While they have never won a major competition, they are vastly experienced at this level and are not a team you would relish playing if you needed a win to go through.
They’ve qualified for the last five consecutive World Cups, including this one, and usually make it through to the Round of 16. The Swiss will be aiming to go one better than that here.
Cameroon is one of the lowest-ranked teams in the tournament, although you wouldn’t expect them to be pushovers here.
While they are the least likely of Group G to qualify for the knockout round, they are a proud African nation with a history of famous players and will want to make their mark on the tournament in Qatar.
With Brazil likely to qualify in 1st position, can either of these two claim three precious points?
FIFA Ranking: 15
Reasons to be cheerful:
Went unbeaten in qualifying.
The fine mix of youth and experience throughout the squad.
Reasons to be fearful:
They lack a world-class striker.
Haven’t scored more than one goal in any of their last six games.
While they have never made it to the latter stages of a major international tournament, Switzerland has been as present at these competitions over the years as any nation.
What usually lets the Swiss down is the lack of a genuine superstar striker, one that can score 20-plus goals a season for his club side, and it’s the same story again this year.
Although Breel Embolo possesses pace and power and Reuben Vargas and Haris Seferovic have the experience, none can be called great goalscorers.
They need to decide on their goalkeeper, too. Yann Sommer is their usual keeper but hasn’t played in over a month due to injury.
The Swiss defense and midfield are where the strength is. With Manchester City’s Akanji at the back and Arsenal’s Xhaka in the middle, they have plenty of power.
Star Man – Breel Embolo
Was his country’s top scorer in qualifying with three, showing Switzerland’s lack of consistency up front. He has the pace and power to trouble the opposition, however.
FIFA Ranking: 43
Reasons to be cheerful:
More World Cup appearances than any other African nation.
One or two big-name players in their squad.
Reasons to be fearful:
Struggle to convert the chances they create.
Have only been beyond the Group Stage once.
Cameroon is a nation with a proud history of World Cup appearances, qualifying for the tournament on two more occasions than any other African country.
They’ve had some fine stars over the years – think Samuel Eto’o of Barcelona and Inter Milan, Geremi of Real Madrid and Chelsea, and, of course, Roger Milla who made his name at the 1990 and 1994 tournaments.
However, despite this being their eighth appearance at the tournament, they’ve only reached the knockout stages once, in 1990.
Unfortunately for them, they find themselves in another tough group to progress from with the other three teams inside the top 21 in the world rankings.
Despite finishing 3rd at the latest Africa Cup of Nations, they struggled to score goals with any consistency. They’ve selected 10 players who can play across the frontline for this tournament in a bid to solve that.
Star Man – Karl Toko Ekambi
Ekambi scored five goals at AFCON this year and is usually the first name on the team sheet. Cameroon could use some consistency from here over the next three games.
SWITZERLAND vs CAMEROON
Switzerland’s power in midfield will control the game.
Neither team is great in front of the goal.
The loser will struggle to qualify.
If either team is to qualify for the knockout stages, particularly Cameroon, you feel that they need to win this game.
Switzerland will fancy their chances against Serbia and know that they can push Brazil hard in their contest. Cameroon will struggle to beat either of those nations later in the group.
With the quality that the Swiss have in defense and midfield, you fancy them as favorites.
Switzerland to win the match.