Toronto's World Cup Warriors: the Swiss
The Team: Switzerland
World Cup History: The Swiss national team has never won the World Cup, and the furthest stage of the tournament it's ever reached is the quarter-finals in 1934, 1938, and 1954. Their victory over tournament favourites Spain last week is one of the biggest upsets in recent World Cup history.
First round games: Switzerland 1 - Spain 0 (June 16), Chile 1 - Switzerland 0 (June 21), Honduras (today at 2:30 pm)
The Fan: Marc Milewski, 24
Occupation: Manager of merchant services
Favourite player: Alexander Frei (he's my guy) and Phillipe Senderos
How far do you think your team will go in the tournament?: After last week's victory over Spain; we're going all the way. How can you not feel like you can move mountains with such a huge win. There is no bigger stage in the world, and I fully believe the Swiss team this year came to win. It's time to add a star above that crest.
What's the key to your teams' success this year?: The biggest and most important factor is teamwork. The reason Italy lost in 1966 to Korea DPR (one of the greatest upsets in soccer history) is that they started playing as individuals and not as a team. It's a death sentence if this happens, and truth be told Switzerland doesn't have the star power for one person to carry the team. Moving as a unit and playing a tough defensive game is going to be one of the most important things.
Obviously we have to limit the amount of shots on net, but the fact is that its going to take something special to beat goalie Diego Bengalio from anywhere outside of the 18 yard box. In the last World cup Switzerland didn't concede a single goal, and now we've only allowed one all tournament. This stat is largely in part to the high standards of goalkeeping the Swiss have. The keepers are accustomed to standing on their heads when the time comes. Lastly, the most important thing is placing the ball in the net. If Frei can get on the field and stay fit, I still have faith that he can work some magic and be a rock upfront.
Where will you be watching the games?: The early games I have to watch while I get ready to go to work. As a Swiss fan, I don't really have a ton of options in terms of an Alpinhaus. However, in true Swiss fashion I will probably go to the Football Factory as it is the most neutral territory. The owner is a super nice guy, and I'm really excited a place like this exists in Toronto.
Any pre-game rituals?: Get my jersey on, and hope Frei doesn't hurt his knee. I'm really not too superstitious, so I don't have any set rituals. I can't eat anything heavy though as it just sits in my nervous stomach with all these low scoring games.
If the Swiss play, and beat, Brazil or Portugal in the knockout phase, I am going to just run up and down Dundas Street West with a cowbell. If I survive, I hope this will be payback for clogging up the streets every time the most pedestrian of accomplishments happen on the pitch. Brazil's 2-1 over Korea DPR is not honk worthy, I'm sorry. Wait for the knockout stage and then you can break out the whistles.
Which team is your most hated rival and why?: The Swiss don't really have a rival, our neutrality is a rare gift. The ability to carry no baggage allows the Swiss to focus on working with what they have and where they need to be after 90 minutes. As time goes on, I'm sure a Hand of God, or head butt-esque type of incident will happen and some sort of resentment will ensue. However until that time comes, we will continue to take it one game at a time, one team at a time.
Photo by Jonathan Loek
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