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Despite being a seasoned member of the Switzerland squad, Philippe Senderos does not hold down a guaranteed starting place. Nevertheless, he will do everything he can to ensure his national side can reach the FIFA World Cup™ quarter-finals for the first time in 60 years.
In many respects, the Swiss are among the high-flyers at Brazil 2014. The Helvetians qualified as group winners after their penultimate preliminary, a performance so strong that Ottmar Hitzfeld’s team surged up the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking to be included among the top seeds in December’s Final Draw for the world finals. As the tournament gets underway, Switzerland are currently ranked sixth, making them the fourth-best European side in Brazil behind Spain, Germany and Portugal.
The team’s captivating performances are largely due to a perfect harmony between talented young players such as Ricardo Rodriguez, Fabian Schar or Xherdan Shaqiri and experienced campaigners like Tranquillo Barnetta, Gokhan Inler and Philippe Senderos. With 53 international caps to his name, Senderos knows that the expectations surrounding him and his team-mates are high at this, his third World Cup. However, as he explained in an interview with FIFA, he is keen to do everything in his power to make sure those expectations are met.
"People both at home and overseas are expecting a strong showing from us, but we’re also expecting a lot from ourselves. We’ve got to push each other on to ensure we keep improving,” he said.
The 190cm-tall centre-back and recent Aston Villa recruit knows his national side’s minimum target is to reach the Round of 16, but he is confident they can progress further still: “With the quality we have in our team, we believe we can beat anyone.”
Competition for a place in the starting line-up is fierce and Senderos must compete with Fabian Schaer, Johan Djourou and Steve von Bergen for the two starting berths in the centre of defence. This rivalry is exactly what makes Senderos so confident. “We’ve got four players who can play in central defence. That kind of competition can only make us stronger.”
Switzerland will make full use of the conditions in Porto Seguro to fine-tune their preparations ahead of their first match against Ecuador on Sunday 15 June. Their defensive stalwart is keen to ensure that he and his fellow countrymen can use the game as a springboard to reach their first quarter-finals since 1954.