Team profile: Swiss out to defy odds
Having won their first three friendlies after the World Cup, a 2-1 defeat against Austria served as a wake-up call for Jakob Kuhn’s side. Two more losses prompted Kuhn to drop captain Johann Vogel, while injuries to established stars Ricardo Cabanas and Alexander Frei in 2007 caused further disruption to his Euro 2008 plans.
There have been encouraging results, though, notably a 1-1 draw against Argentina in June 2007 and a 2-1 win against the Netherlands two months later. Before the latter match, Kuhn said of Switzerland’s Euro ambitions: “Success would be to reach the quarter-finals. It won’t be easy, but that has to be our goal.”
Switzerland topped Group G at the World Cup in Germany, drawing their opening game 0-0 against France, and then beating both Togo and Korea Republic 2-0 - with Alexander Frei scoring in both games. They drew 0-0 with Ukraine in the round of 16 but lost 3-0 on penalties, meaning they were eliminated from the competition without conceding a goal in open play.
Switzerland defied the odds to qualify for their second European Championship, coming top of a five-team Group 10 which also featured Russia and the Republic of Ireland. Qualification went down to the wire, with a 2-0 win against the Irish on the final day ensuring that second-placed Russia could not catch them.
Switzerland drew 0-0 with Croatia in their opening game at Euro 2004 in Portugal but then lost 3-0 to England and 3-1 to France to finish bottom of Group B. Johan Vonlanthen scored their only goal in Portugal, cancelling out Zinedine Zidane’s goal for France before Thierry Henry struck twice late on to win the game.
Switzerland have twice qualified for the European Championship, doing so for the first time at the ninth attempt at Euro 1996. They qualified again in 2004. Both of their finals campaigns have started with draws — 1-1 against hosts England in 1996 and 0-0 with Croatia in Portugal — but ended with two subsequent defeats.
Their record prior to the Euro 2008 was 80 matches played with 29 wins, 22 draws and 29 losses, with 119 goals scored and 108 conceded.