Switzerland, the on-again, off-again central-European, middleof-the-road program, often slightly better than other middle-ofthe-road teams, had early success with the World Cup, relatively speaking, and then ran out of steam.
Switzerland didn’t compete in World Cup 1930, the first grand extravaganza in Uruguay, but made it to the quarterfinals in 1934 and 1938. Their string of average began in 1950, when they fizzled out in the group phase. World Cup 1954, which was held in Switzerland, was better, as they made the quarterfinals. Though, for Sweden in 1958, they didn’t compete.
Things got a little better—but not so much—in 1962 and 1966, as they made the tournaments but got no farther than the group phase. Nothing more than a dalliance before twenty years of silence. As things played out, from 1970 to 1990, they didn’t qualify. A long time for Switzerland to be out of World Cup action.
But, in 1994, on their epic comeback, they got to the round of 16, a big success, considering. However, in 1998 and 2002, they didn’t even qualify. In true Swiss form, they mounted a comeback, and, by 2006, they were back and made it to the round of 16. Unfortunately, they lost in penalty kicks to the Ukraine. In 2010, they weren’t so lucky and were unable to escape Group H, which consisted of Spain, Chile, and Honduras. And, for 2014, they got back on track, eventually losing 1-0 in the round of 16 to Argentina, thanks to a goal from Di Maria.
In the closing months of 2017, during European World Cup qualifications, Switzerland finished second in their group behind Portugal. This led to a two-game playoff with Northern Ireland (who finished second in their group behind Germany). The games were played on November 9 and 12, 2017. Switzerland won an aggregate victory of 1-0, guaranteeing a place in Russia 2018.