Euro 2016 Spotlight:Switzerland

When you think about Switzerland, you may think about chocolate. The Alps. The arrests of FIFA officials in Zürich last year. Their famous neutrality. Somewhere down the list is their national team, but after the European Championships, the Swiss side will be much higher up in your consciousness.

They've never won the Euros before — heck, they've never gotten out of the group stage and didn't even qualify for Euro 2012 — but this time, things feel different. This Swiss side has more talent and, most importantly, more fun than we've seen from this side in a long time, and a whole lot of that talent is on the transfer market this summer. This kind of opportunity to showcase so much talent on one team doesn't come around often, so there's a lot of buzz around the team right now as they prepare for what they hope will be their most successful Euro run ever.

You've likely heard of Xherdan Shaqiri, who helped push Stoke City to an impressive ninth place finish in the Premier League last season, but he's far from the only highly talented player in the Swiss squad. Granit Xhaka will be joining him in England next year after a high-profile transfer to Arsenal that's already been wrapped up, and if things go Switzerland's way in France, we could see a few more Swiss stars make high-profile moves.

Much of their strike force will be in the shop window during the tournament, from Admir Mehmedi's steady and hard-working presence to the youthful audacity of Breel Embolo. There's also a lot of talent in the Swiss defense that big teams have been eyeing and chasing for years, like jaw-dropping left back Ricardo Rodriguez, who has silky defensive skills and significant creative skills down the left flank in attack or from serving up set pieces. Then there's center back Fabian Schär, who's shown poise and instinct for the game well beyond his years. With his size and skill, that makes him a player that many think could adapt well to leaving the Bundesliga for England, which we could easily see if he plays to his potential in this tournament.

Then there's goalkeeper Yann Sommer, who is still yet to reach his best as a netminder — and who many think needs to leave Borussia Mönchengladbach in order to reach his potential. He's arguably the best goalkeeper the Swiss have had in a long time, and he'll be well-tested by facing France, Albania and Romania in the group stage before hopefully moving on to facing even better strikers in the knockout rounds.

This team is wonderfully talented, and had little problem getting through their qualification group, losing only to a white-hot England side and to Slovenia away. They won every other game, and looked every bit the part of a dominant, high-flying side ready to test themselves against the best teams of Europe. They've stumbled a bit of late in friendlies as they prepare for the Euros, but they still look like a team that should easily qualify for the knockout rounds.

Once the Swiss reach the round of 16, there are few teams on the continent that they wouldn't at minimum give a huge fight to, and in one-match knockouts, anything can happen. Especially with all the quality talent that they have, aching to prove just how good they can be, this Switzerland side could make a much greater impact than any Swiss side we've seen before — and earn their players a whole lot of money in the process.

Schedule & Results

Saturday, Jun. 11
Wednesday, Jun. 15
Sunday, Jun. 19
Saturday, Jun. 25
Round of 16 after ET & PKs
Switzerland
1 (4)
Poland
1 (5)