Hitzfeld goes back to the drawing board to plug holes up front for Swiss

After the humiliation inflicted by Sepp Blatter the Football Association could regard it as bitterly ironic that England's opposition at Wembley tomorrow are also Swiss. However, while the Fifa president appears as impregnable as ever his nation's footballers are at a low ebb.

While it would be unwise to be too complacent against a team which defeated Spain at the World Cup, Switzerland arrive at Wembley tomorrow in desperate straits when it comes to goalscoring. Two leading strikers have quit international football in protest against the abuse they were receiving from fans and media alike, and a third has been dropped after criticising coach Ottmar Hitzfeld. That left Philippe Senderos, the former Arsenal centre-half who occasionally makes an appearance for Fulham, second top scorer in the 21-man squad with five goals, one fewer than the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta.

Neither has scored for their country this season. Indeed, only two members of the squad have, Xherdan Shaqiri, who scored a spectacular consolation in Switzerland's 3-1 defeat at home to England in September, and the Udinese midfielder Gokhan Inler.

His goal came in the 4-1 defeat of Wales in October, Switzerland's only win in 10 games since defeating Spain in Durban. That shock victory was followed by two blanks against Chile and Honduras, sending Switzerland out of the World Cup at the group stage.

Little has gone right for them since. Alexander Frei (42 goals from 84 appearances) and Marco Streller (12 from 37) quit after the last international, a goalless draw in Sofia that followed a 0-0 draw with Malta. Valentin Stocker, who scored twice against Wales, is injured while the veteran Hakan Yakin has been dropped, perhaps because he publicly disagreed with Hitzfeld leaving him on the bench against Bulgaria. Blaise Nkufo, who led the line against Spain, has also retired.

Switzerland do have a lot of promising young players. Drawing heavily on footballers who either moved to the country as children, or were born to immigrants, they won the last world Under-17 tournament in 2009. Although Kosovan-born striker Granit Xhaka has been called up for this match, the reality is it is too early for the graduates from that team to help Hitzfeld.

He is thus considering changing formation to cope with the lack of strikers. "One option is to change the system, to play with an attacking midfielder and a support striker," he said. "We have a few options."

Not many though, with Eren Derdiyok, scorer of six goals in 32 Bundesliga matches with Bayer Leverkusen this season, the only capped striker in the squad.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Fans take a selfie with Ed Miliband in Kempston, near Bedford, on Tuesday
election 2015
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power