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EURO 2022

Switzerland squad for Women’s Euro 2022: player profiles - Maritz, Walti...

Switzerland’s 2017 group stage exit was their first participation in a Euro, a result they will try to improve this summer.

Matthias Dubach
Update:
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - JUNE 30: Julia Stierli of Switzerland (M) and Switzerland squad warming up during the Women's International friendly match between Switzerland and England at Stadion Letzigrund on June 30, 2022 in Zurich , Switzerland. (Photo by Vedran Galijas/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)
Eurasia Sport ImagesGetty

As part of the Guardian’s Women’s Euro 2022 Experts’ Network, a collaboration between media outlets from 16 countries, AS is offering in-depth profiles of the players in all 16 squads at the tournament, which runs from 6 to 31 July. This lowdown on the Switzwerland team is written by Matthias Dubach from Blick.

Gaëlle Thalmann

18 January 1985

Goalkeeper

Betis Sevilla

Nicknamed “Gaga”, Thalmann is one of few national team players who come from the French-speaking part of Switzerland, having grown up in Bulle in the Fribourg region. Thalmann has already played for 16 different clubs in four countries, frequently returning home to represent clubs such as Grasshoppers Zurich, Basel and Servette. Currently with Seville, she also works part-time for the Swiss Football Association, where she heads a project to encourage more young girls to play football. Having suffered a cruciate ligament injury in 2014, she made a remarkable recovery to play at the 2015 World Cup. “It was four hours rehab a day, and then a bit more in the evening,” she once said.

ERFURT, GERMANY - JUNE 24: Gaelle Thalmann of Switzerland reacts during the Women's International friendly match between Germany and Switzerland at Steigerwaldstadion on June 24, 2022 in Erfurt, Germany. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
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ERFURT, GERMANY - JUNE 24: Gaelle Thalmann of Switzerland reacts during the Women's International friendly match between Germany and Switzerland at Steigerwaldstadion on June 24, 2022 in Erfurt, Germany. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)Martin RoseGetty

Seraina Friedli

20 March 1993

Goalkeeper

FC Aarau

Grew up in the Engadin region, where youngsters tend to become skiers, snowboarders or cross-country skiers. Friedli, however, took another path, FC Zurich having noticed that there was an exceptionally talented goalkeeper in Graubünden playing at clubs such as FC Lusitanos and FC Thusis Cazis. “When I joined FC Zürich Women I was always nervous because the quality of the players I was facing,” she said once. “However, I learned to control my nervousness through breathing exercises and meditation.” Friedli won several championships with the club before moving to Young Boys. After a spell in Italy she is now back in Switzerland with FC Aarau. Is also a sports scientist with a master’s degree in elite sports.

Livia Peng

14 March 2002

Goalkeeper

FC Zurich

Peng were given her first goalkeeper gloves for Christmas at the age of eight and has never put them away since then really. The girl from Chur is a future No 1 for Switzerland. At the age of 17, she had already joined perennial champions FC Zurich. “I am very focused, strong-willed and aim to reach my goal,” she says on her own website. “If I hadn’t had those characteristics I would probably still be in Graubünden.” The Swiss national coach, Nils Nielsen, thinks a lot of her and threw her in at the deep end for her debut in the decisive European Championship qualifying game against Belgium in 2020 because Gaëlle Thalmann was out with covid. Peng is set to graduate from high school this year and then wants to become a professional footballer, preferably abroad.

Rahel Kiwic

5 January 1991

Defender

FC Zurich

In 2020, having spent six years in Germany with Duisburg and Turbine Potsdam, she returned to Switzerland and former club FC Zurich, where she had been a diligent title collector in the past. She said that the status of women’s football in Switzerland had improved noticeably during her time away but added: “but of course there is still a lot of room for improvement”. Got the football bug from her brothers and cousins but one of the few players in the national team who never played with boys. Kiwic, who once studied law and journalism, now works for the company “Athletes Network”.

Eseosa Aigbogun

23 May 1995

Defender

Paris FC

Used to be a forward and wrote herself into the history books when she scored Switzerland’s first ever World Cup goal against Ecuador at the 2015 tournament in Canada. It all could have been different, however, if she had accepted a call from Nigeria to play for them. Aigbogun’s parents immigrated from Nigeria. They separated and got divorced when she was young but they have since remarried. Aigbogun has two sisters, two brothers and two stepbrothers. With Paris FC since 2018, she is now a modern full-back who can also play as a wing-back.

Luana Bühler

28 April 1996

Defender

Hoffenheim

The Hoffenheim player has worked her way to become the defensive mainstay of this Switzerland team almost by stealth. The Lucerne native played for FC Lucerne and FC Zurich before moving the Frauen-Bundesliga in Germany but knee injuries have always seemed to stand in her way. She has torn the cruciate ligament in both knees, along with sustaining meniscal tears, which were operated on. The covid break may, in fact, have saved her career. She worked extremely hard on her strength and has impressed for Hoffenheim and the national team since the restart. One of five siblings, she says it taught her to fight for what she wants.

Lara Marti

21 September 1999

Defender

Bayer Leverkusen

Born in Basel she started playing football at a very young age because of her older brother. Made the move to FC Basel as an early teenager and made her debut in the top flight at the age of 16. Has been living the dream of playing professional football since 2020, when she moved to the Bundesliga and joined Bayer Leverkusen. Despite that, she also works part-time for the club in the commercial department. Her role model is the two-time world champion Alex Morgan (32) from the USA.

Rachel Rinast

2 June 1991

Defender

FC Cologne

Is there anything she can’t do? The defender is involved in a lot of social projects and is an professional singer as well as an international footballer. She has appeared in a TV show and music videos and sand Switzerland official Euro 2017 song United in Red. The Cologne native found her way into the Swiss squad by chance before the 2015 World Cup, casually mentioning to her adviser that she had a Swiss passport because of her mother. He immediately got in touch with the Swiss FA and Rinast has been a feature at left-back for the national team ever since.

Julia Stierli

3 April 1997

Defender

FC Zurich

Started out as a striker but the Aargau native has since become one of the best defenders in the country. Has been with FC Zurich since 2014, collecting an abundance of silverware, and decided to stay at the club despite several offers from abroad, in order to be able to focus on her education as well as playing football. Stierli is studying physiotherapy and has already missed a game for Switzerland because of it but that is not a problem for the coach, Nils Nielsen, who still counts on the 25-year-old.

Noelle Maritz

23 Dezember 1995

Defender

Arsenal

One of the absolute top players of the Swiss national team, she has been playing at the highest level for a long time now. Born in the United States – and therefore has US citizenship – she and her family moved to Switzerland when she was 10 years old. It did not take her long to stand out and, via FC Wil, she joined FC Zurich in 2011 and has not looked back since. She was just 17 years when she joined European heavyweights Wolfsburg, where she won the Champions League once and five Bundesliga titles, before signing for Arsenal in 2020. “Football has shaped my life,” she told TdG in 2022.

Viola Calligaris

17 March 1996

Defender

Levante

The Swiss-Italian citizen from Sarnen played with boys up until the age of 15, playing regularly for SC Emmen United and finishing second in the Coca Cola League with “her” boys. “I had a great time with them,” Calligaris enthuses today. Once a striker, then a midfielder, she now plays in defence. After four seasons with Young Boys, she moved to Spain in 2017 and has since played for Atlético Madrid, Valencia and Levante. Back to fitness after a long injury break she would like a move to Italy at some point. “My grandfather would love to see me in the Juve kit one day,” she says with a laugh.

Coumba Sow

27 August 1994

Midfielder

Paris FC

The daughter of a Senegalese father and a Dutch mother, she started playing football as a twelve-year-old at the Zurich neighbourhood club SV Höngg. Two years later she joined the FC Zurich youth set-up and, after being promoted to the senior team, wins the league in 2013 and 2014 while still studying. Still 18 she takes her degree, packs her bags and moves to the United States. “I wanted to travel, experience a new country, get to know other cultures,” she has said. The US was a good option because she did not want to give up football. She continued her studies and played collage football for four years before returning to FCZ. Now with FC Paris in the French top flight she started playing football with her cousin Djibril, who now plays for the Swiss national team and Eintracht Frankfurt. “My dad didn’t want me to play with the boys,” Sow has said. “He was worried I’d get hurt.”

Sandy Maendly

4 April 1988

Midfielder

Servette

This European Championship will be Maendly’s final act as a Switzerland international, having already said that she will not play at the 2023 World Cup even if Switzerland qualify. The 2022 Euros will, in fact, be her first major tournament too, which is surprising considering the talent she has. In 2015, here was a fallout with the national coach at the time, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, with Maendly not picked for the World Cup despite being fit again after a cruciate ligament injury. That led to the Geneva-based player not being considered for the 2017 Euros either but she has returned to the fold under the current coach, Nils Nielsen.

Lia Wälti

19 April 1993

Midfield

Arsenal

The 29-year-old is the pace-setter in the Swiss midfield engine room and the extended arm of the coach, Nils Nielsen. The Dane is happy about that. “Lia understands football incredibly well,” he says. “She makes sure my ideas are implemented. She is the best captain I have ever had.” Her game intelligence and overview are striking. She was born in the ice hockey village of Langnau in Emmental and the family often made an ice rink in the garden. Her mum was a belly dancing teacher but Lia chose football at an early age, partly because her dad was a coach for the Langnau women’s team. In 2009, she moved to Young Boys, where she played with boys for a year at Under-16 level. At the tender age of 17 she moved to the Young Boys senior women’s team and a year later she was captain of the team and a Swiss champion. For the last four years Wälti has been playing for Arsenal, winning the WSL in 2019.

Riola Xhemaili

5 March 2003

Midfield

SC Freiburg

At a young age Xhemaili was invited to the Swiss FA performance centre in Biel but decided to stay at home and play with the boys in Solothurn. It paid off. She moved to the youth set-up in Basel where she played with her twin brother Rion, who is now an Under-21 player at the club. In 2018 she was promoted to the women’s team at Basel and impressed so much that she got a call-up for the national team in 2020 and a move to Freiburg the year after. Despite being one of the youngest players in the national team, she has found it to be a really welcoming group of people. “Age is not an issue in the national team. We sit around the table in mixed [age groups],” she says Xhemaili.

Sandrine Mauron

19 December 1996

Midfield

Eintracht Frankfurt

Growing up in the small village of Valeyres in Vaud, Mauron has become an established Frauen Bundesliga player and even though she does not always start, she is extremely useful coming off the bench. Having spent five years at FC Zürich she moved to FFC Frankfurt in 2019 and was part of the squad that joined Eintracht Frankfurt a year later. An unused substitute at the 2017 Euros she will hope to make an impact in England. Remembers starting out as a six-year-old at FC Grandson-Tuileries. “The shorts were so big that I had to roll them up two or three times,” she said in this interview.

Svenja Fölmli

19 August 2002

Attack

Freiburg

Arguably the biggest talents of all Swiss forwards. Followed in the footsteps of her older brothers when it came to football and was quite clear she wanted to become a professional footballer at the age of 10. And she managed that before she was out of her teens, coming through the performance centre in Biel to join Lucerne in the Super League. “She is the first one on the pitch for training and the last one to leavem” said her coach at Lucerne, Glenn Meier. “And for me that is brilliant. She also knows that there is a lot of room for improvement so she is working on that.” Made her international debut at 17 and is hoping that this tournament can be her big breakthrough.

Fabienne Humm

20 December 1986

Forward

FC Zurich

An ever-present in the Swiss squad for a long time, taking in the 2015 World Cup and 2017 Euros. In Canada in 2015, she made history by scoring the fastest ever women’s World Cup hat-trick, netting three goals against Ecuador in just 274 seconds. Humm actually retired from the national team in 2017 but made a return two years later after the coach, Nils Nielsen, convinced her to make a return. Humm never left FC Zurich despite several offers from abroad and was never a professional; despite her many goals and league titles, she always worked part-time in an office.

Ramona Bachmann

25 December 1990

Attack

Paris Saint-Germain FC

Arguably the most talented Swiss footballer of all time and the national team coach, Nils Nielsen, is a huge fan. “Ramona can make the difference against any team,” he has said while also making her vice-captain. Showed early on that she was made of sterner stuff than most of us by moving up to the north of Sweden to join Umeå IK at the age of 16. “I was never homesick, the club looked after me so well,” she says. Has been with the national team for more than 15 years now and has won a number of club titles, including the league and/or cup in Sweden, England, Germany and France. Currently with Paris St-Germain, she used to be in a relationship with fellow Switzerland forward Alisha Lehmann.

Geraldine Reuteler

21 April 1999

Winger/Attack

Eintracht Frankfurt

Reuteler was born in central Switzerland and played for FC Lucerne from the age of 14. She made her debut in the top Swiss league at the age of 15 and became an absolute key player in the team over the following four years. After completing her business degree, she moved to the Bundesliga in summer 2018 to joining Eintracht Frankfurt. Since the 2017 European Championship, where she was the youngest player in the Swiss squad, Reuteler has become a regular in the national team and, at the age of 23, already has over 40 caps to her name. Suffered a cruciate ligament injury in 2021 but returned 349 days later, saying “it felt as if I had not been away”.

Meriame Terchoun

27 October 1995

Attack

FC Zurich

The lively forward has experienced many ups and downs in her career already. Played at the 2017 European Championship in the Netherlands but suffered horrendous injuries (tore her cruciate ligaments three times), depression and was close to a burn-out. In 2020, it looked like her career was maybe coming to an end but a psychologist helped her with the depression and a warm-weather break was a good medicine against a possible burn out. She rejoined FC Zurich mainly for fun but has become fit again and is enjoying her football at the moment. Terchoun also works for the players’ union, SAFP, and for the TV station Blue as a production assistant.

Ana Maria Crnogorcevic

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - JUNE 30: Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic of Switzerland looks on during the Women's International friendly match between Switzerland and England at Stadion Letzigrund on June 30, 2022 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Lynne Cameron - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)
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ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - JUNE 30: Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic of Switzerland looks on during the Women's International friendly match between Switzerland and England at Stadion Letzigrund on June 30, 2022 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Lynne Cameron - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)Lynne Cameron - The FAGetty

3 October 1990

Attack

Barcelona

The player from Thun with Croatian family roots has been a fixed point in the national team for years now and can look back on a fine club career too with stints in Germany, the United States and Spain. Crnogorcevic won the Champions League twice, once with Frankfurt and once with hr current club, Barcelona. She is already Switzerland record goalscorer and is set to overtake Lara Dickenmann when it comes to appearances too. Remarkably, at Barcelona she is also used as a wing-back. She is passionate about motorcycling but is not allowed to enjoy her hobby at the moment as her contract with Barcelona prevents her from being on a motorcycle.

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