Despite being the first-time against each other, The man looking to lead the lines for the Swiss would be no other than their skipper Granit Xhaka with an in-form Chuopo-Moting doing same for the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon.
Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka is one of the standout players in the Premier League this season for current league leaders Arsenal. Playing in a position further up the pitch this season, he has already scored more goals this season (4) than he did in the previous three put together. A player once heavily criticized by Arsenal fans, is now routinely chanted by the fanbase based on his recent performance.
Xhaka’s success in this advanced role shouldn’t come as a surprise, given he’s always operated there for Switzerland. In previous years, his performances for Switzerland have always been markedly better than those for his club. He was instrumental in their run to the quarterfinals of the Euro 2020 last year, where they famously defeated France in the Round of 16.
Having a tremendous form for the Gunners (Arsenal) this season, the Swiss fans will be hoping that Xhaka can carry his club form to lead them in the World Cup.
Another player who be looking to make a name for himself besides Granit Xhaka is possibly Cameroon’s Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.
The 33-year-old forward has often been ridiculed with regards to his switching of clubs. He was relegated with Stoke City in the Premier League, went on to play for European giants like Paris Saint-Germain and now Bayern Munich.
Chuopo-Moting’s role at both these clubs was, he was often used as a late substitute whenever he made an appearance.
Interestingly at Bayern this season, he’s stepped out of the shadows to fill in the gap left by Robert Lewandowski’s departure over the summer.
He has 11 goals in all competitions, the joint second-highest with Sadio Mane for Bayern this season averaging more than a goal per game.
Chuopo-Moting, now being phenomenal in this Bayern team this season, will be expected to reciprocate the same energy for Cameroon going to the Mundial.
How both teams secured qualification to the World Cup in dramatic fashion.
Switzerland held European champions Italy to a 1-1 draw in Rome in the qualification game in November last year, with Italian midfielder Jorginho missing a penalty in the 90th minute. They went on to beat Bulgaria in their final group game and finished ahead of Italy to qualify for the tournament.
Cameroon, also needed a late extra-time winner in their final qualification game against Algeria, which saw the Indomitable Lions seal the fifth and last spot for African teams at the World Cup.
They are both coming off strong showings in their most recent major tournament appearance. Switzerland reached the Euro 2020 quarter-finals for the first time in their history last year and came agonizingly close to making in into the semi-finals, losing to Spain on penalties.
Cameroon reached the semi-finals of the African Cup of Nations earlier this year, where they were knocked out by Egypt on penalties.
Interestingly, the two sides have never played each other before.
Now they will meet on the biggest stage of all at the Al Janoub Stadium having a capacity of 44,325 in their Group G opener.