FIFA RANK: 26
Allow me to take a moment to begin this article with some quotes from what I believe to be one of the greatest sports movies of our time ... "Cool Runnings."
Cool Runnings is the classic 1993 film that followed the Jamaican bobsled's team memorable run for respect during the 1988 Winter Olympics.
The driver, Derice Banock, said to his teammates after a bar fight, "You don't see the Swiss team fightin', do you? You don't see the Swiss team drinkin' and carryin' on and such." Sanka Coffee, played briliantly by Doug E.Doug replys, "And you don't see the Swiss team smilin' neither. In fact, if one of those Swiss boys ever come across a pretty girl, he probably yell, "eins, zwei, drei" and try to push her down some ice!"
Ok, I lied its not the greatest movie in the world, but the truth is, I think of "Cool Runnings" anytime I think of anything Swiss. And most European countries tend to dismiss Switzerland's national soccer team as well.
Much like that Jamaican Bobsled team, the Swiss head to South Africa searching for a little respect. Despite qualifying for consecutive World Cups for the first time in 40 years, many experts don't expect much from this team. Switzerland crashed and burned as co-host of Euro Cup '08 and came out of a weak qualifying group where they lost at home to Luxemborg. That loss led no one to believe this team had any real chance to make it to South Africa.
But like any great sports story (Cool Runnings!) there is always a moment you turn things around, and the Swiss did that by responding to that Luxemborg loss by going unbeaten in 8 straight qualifiers. They also head into South Africa with an experienced team that didn't give up a single goal at the cup 4 years ago. In fact, they are the only nation ever to be eliminated without allowing a single goal, when they went down in penalties in the second round to Ukraine.
Spearheading this summer's Swiss charge is once again Alex Frei. Frei is already the nations all time leading scorer, but is recovering from a broken arm. His health is key to any chance the Swiss have. On the other side of the pitch, Phillippe Senderos has turned into a fine defender while playing at top English clubs Arsenal and Everton.
Bottom line tough, I can't see the Swiss making it out of the group stage. They face two underrated latin sides and heavy favorite Spain. But then again, they could always prove me wrong and make a mark in my mind that doesn't involve "Cool Runnings" and Doug E. Doug kissing an egg!
June 16 vs. Spain - 9 a.m. CT (Don't expect Swiss to not allow a goal here, Spain is arguably best team in World)
June 21 vs. Chile - 9 a.m. CT (If Swiss have any dreams of advancing they need to win here)
June 25 vs. Honduras - 1:30 p.m. CT (Interesting match, I expect Honduras to move on, but if both need points, Swiss are more experienced and prepared)
NEXT ON THE PITCH: SLOVENIA