As the decade comes to a close, it marks the end of another successful era for the Swiss National Team.
Switzerland have undergone a revolution in the last nine years, building on the foundations formed in the early 21st century. The setup developed by the late great Köbi Kuhn has flourished, only increasing in strength in recent years.
The Schweizer Nati have achieved so much this decade, shown by their five major tournament appearances. From the World Cup to the European Championship to the inaugural Nations League Finals, Switzerland have been everywhere.
There’s so much to celebrate and reflect on, so Schweizer Nati: Decade in review will be split into two parts. Part One looks at the numbers and what they say about the decade just gone, in what has truly been a successful era in Swiss football.
Part 1: The Statistics
Switzerland played 106 fixtures over the last decade, averaging just under 12 games a year. This has been boosted by their tournament appearances, alongside the routine qualifiers and international friendlies.
The Swiss can end the 2010s knowing that they won the majority of their games, with 56 wins over the course of the decade. It is a slim majority but a very impressive one of 52.8%, ending their decade with a positive record.
They lost an average of three games a year, totalling 27 defeats overall. Some of those defeats were extremely painful, ones where Switzerland so close to achieving something special but fell just short in devastating fashion.
Argentina’s 118th minute winner in 2014 and Sweden’s deflected strike in 2018 denied the Nati from reaching the World Cup quarter-final for the first time since 1954, while a late Cristiano Ronaldo masterclass decided this year’s Nations League semi-final with Portugal. Yet it is only by experiencing pain that you can cherish success.
Switzerland missed just one tournament in the form of EURO 2012, failing to qualify from Group G after finishing third behind England and Montenegro. They missed out on a play-off spot by one point, their first absence from Europe’s showpiece tournament in 12 years in what was the lowest point of the decade.
Nevertheless, five major tournaments is a remarkable figure for the decade. Switzerland qualified for three consecutive World Cups for the first time in 65 years, equalling the number of finals appearances within the decade just gone from the previous 40 years (between 1966 and 2006).
Switzerland are now an established nation at international tournaments, expected to be qualifying for every single one. What was once seen as a once-in-a-lifetime achievement is now a formality and expectation for the Nati, showing how far they have come.
The Top Scorers
Switzerland have had 32 different goalscorers this decade, from Albian Ajeti to Steven Zuber. One of their strengths is having an array of players to rely on for goals, rather than vying for one key player to turn up with the goals every game.
Out of the top 10, there are three defenders and two midfielders who find their way onto the list. Stephan Lichtsteiner has long since established his place in the national team setup, and is tied with fellow defensive partners Ricardo Rodríguez and Fabian Schär.
Three forwards are joint-fifth, having netted nine times this decade. Erin Derdiyok was once a goalscoring machine for the Schweizer Nati, while Norwich City’s Josip Drmić and Wolfsburg’s Admir Mehmedi are still coming up with the goals when called upon.
1. Xherdan Shaqiri, 21 goals
There’s no surprise who the top scorer of the decade is. Shaqiri made his debut in 2010, scoring a screamer against England to kick his international career off in style. He’s been Switzerland’s go-to man since, with countless milestones for the Nati in a glittering international career for the Liverpool man.
His highlights include his World Cup hat-trick against Honduras in 2014, his stunning bicycle kick against Poland in 2016 and the last-minute winner over Serbia in 2018. Shaqiri is Switzerland’s joint-tenth highest scorer of all time, and could break Alexander Frei’s 42-goal record if he continues his fine form.
2. Haris Seferović, 18 goals
Seferović has been leading the line for Switzerland since 2013, four years after scoring the winner in the Under-17 World Cup Final. His crowning moment so far was his momentous hat-trick against Belgium last year, with a special mention for his last-minute winner against Ecuador in 2014.
While he has gone through difficult spells when faced by harsh criticism, Seferović has always stayed focused and never given up. He has been the Nati’s first-choice striker for years now, and will go into the next decade hoping to extend that status.
3. Granit Xhaka, 12 goals
Perhaps an unlikely name in third, but Xhaka has excelled when it comes to scoring for Switzerland. His long-range prowess and accurate finishing tells the story for the Arsenal midfielder, who is lambasted by his club’s fans but adored by the Swiss (and Albanian, for that matter) fans.
Captaining the Schweizer Nati multiple times are certainly proud moments for Xhaka, and in terms of goals his emotional equaliser against Serbia has to be his best. Wonderful strikes against Denmark this March and France in 2014 also rank highly, as the Swiss midfield maestro is the best-scoring Swiss midfielder of the decade.
4. Blerim Džemaili, 10 goals
Although Vladimir Petković has ultimately called his international retirement for him, Džemaili can look back on a fruitful international career. His early years after his debut in 2006 were hindered by injury, taking him until his 27th cap to score his first Nati goal against Iceland in 2013.
With one goal in his first seven years, Džemaili persevered and got nine goals and six assists in the next five years, scoring World Cup goals against France and Costa Rica. While he is no longer part of Petković’s plans, Džemaili’s story to fight in the face of adversity and place on this list is truly inspirational.