Through late April, SI.com will profile two World Cup teams a week. We continue with Switzerland. Click here for the full archive.
FIFA world ranking: No. 35.
How they qualified for Germany: Finished second to France in UEFA Group 4 with a 4-0-6 record, then eliminated Turkey in a home-and-away playoff.
Previous World Cups: Seven appearances (1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1994). Reached quarterfinals in '34, '38, '54.
Manager: Jakob Kuhn, sixth year with team.
Veterans Johann Vogel and Raphaël Wicky are the leaders in midfield, but they are slowly leaving the limelight to a corps of gifted kids who graduated from Switzerland's excellent youth program. Players such as Philippe Senderos, Tranquillo Barnetta, Daniel Gygax and Valon Behrami are becoming increasingly important to this team, though perhaps this World Cup comes a bit too soon for them.
Two players who have hit on hard times will have to perform if Switzerland is to have any success. Goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbühler, the man-mountain, is a romantic choice at 35 years of age, but whether he can be effective at this level remains to be seen. Equally, Alexander Frei is the only genuine consistent goal scorer among the Swiss. If he suddenly doesn't produce, Switzerland may struggle to create chances.
What to watch for
There is an interesting blend of young and old and, in many ways, Switzerland is looking past the World Cup and thinking in terms of 2008, when it hosts the European Championships. Coach Kuhn has turned this team into a cohesive unit since taking charge in 2001, weeding out some of the more troublesome veterans and giving space to the kids, which ought to make this a somewhat unpredictable team.
Look for Barnetta and Behrami (who could challenge for a spot in the starting 11) to provide plenty of drive and creativity in midfield. Vogel, who spent much of the year riding the pine at AC Milan, will want to prove himself all over again (and, while a bit rusty, he at least won't be fatigued).
Group: G (France, South Korea, Togo).
Key match in group stage: June 23 vs. South Korea. On paper, France looks a rung above and Togo a notch below. But things could turn out to be somewhat more interesting than that. Either way, Switzerland will need at least a point, and probably more, against the Koreans.