Casemiro believes Brazil are in a much stronger position at the Qatar World Cup than they were in Russia in 2018.

Manchester United midfielder Casemiro lashed home an 83rd-minute winner against Switzerland on Monday, ensuring Brazil's progress from Group G.

Up to that point at Stadium 974, Brazil – shorn of the injured Neymar – had been frustrated in their attempts to break the deadlock, and looked set to be heading for a third World Cup draw against the Swiss, who they had not previously beaten in the competition.

Brazil are the first side in World Cup history to go unbeaten in 17 consecutive group stage matches (including final and second group rounds in earlier editions), though it is the first time since 2010 that the Selecao have won their opening two matches at the tournament. 

Having reached the quarter-finals in Russia before going out to Belgium, Brazil are the favourites to triumph in Qatar, and Casemiro has no doubt the squad is stronger than it was at the last World Cup.

"Four years have gone by, there are new players, this year we have a wider range of options, we have more to choose from, without even changing the team we can change the way we play," Casemiro said in a post-match press conference.

"If we substitute players we have even more options. There's no doubt the options are much greater than those in 2018. Not only because time has gone on and we are mature.

"We have defenders who are more experienced, we've had another match without conceding. It's not Alisson, it's not the defence, it starts up front with Richarlison.

"The range of options is much greater than at the last World Cup."

Casemiro's sentiment was echoed by coach Tite, who claimed the real victor of Brazil's success on Monday was the "process" of developing a younger squad.

"There's a wide range of options because there's a four-year period of developing this," Tite said.

"What won today was this four years, and them being able to develop in a natural way, despite being young.

"If that weren't the case, it would be very difficult. Who won today? This process, this development. That was the cherry on the cake."

Brazil need just a point from their final Group G game against Cameroon to seal top spot, and a match against the runners-up of Group H, which includes Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea, in the last 16.

It is unclear if Neymar, who sustained an ankle injury in last week's win over Serbia, will be fit to feature against Cameroon, but Tite was buoyed that Brazil got the job done without their talisman.

Asked if Brazil missed Neymar's influence, Tite said: "Obviously, Neymar has different skills, he is a player who can make a magical moment.

"Other players are still getting to that level, and I hope they get there. So yes, we do miss Neymar, he has a great creative power, so we miss him, but we see that there are players that can take the opportunity. Let's enjoy this win."

Neymar has lauded Casemiro as "the best midfielder in the world" after the latter fired Brazil into the knockout rounds of the World Cup against Switzerland.

After picking up an ankle injury in the Selecao's opening Group G match, the Paris Saint-Germain attacker was forced to watch his team's second match from their hotel.

In a cagey encounter, it was the Manchester United midfielder's late strike that earned Brazil a 1-0 win, and Neymar was succinctly effusive in his praise for his team-mate after the final whistle.

"Casemiro has been the best midfielder in the world for a long time," the forward simply wrote on Twitter after the match.

Having left it late to seal victory - his 83rd-minute goal was the second-latest winner for Brazil in a World Cup match, after beating Costa Rica in 2018 - Casemiro's intervention proved crucial for Tite's side.

When asked by Stats Perform in his post-match press conference on whether he agreed with Neymar, Tite replied: "As a habit, I always respect opinions, but do not comment on them.

"But I will allow myself to do so today. I agree."

Explaining why he elected to play the 30-year-old in a deeper position, he added: "Casemiro is a second midfielder, that’s what we saw happen.

"He works as a central player, he’s a surprise element from the back. If Casemiro is already high, it's easy to be marked, but when he comes from the back he can be a surprise."

Brazil wrap up their Group G campaign against Cameroon on December 2.

A late Casemiro strike saw Brazil book their passage through to the knockout stage of the World Cup as they snatched a 1-0 victory over Switzerland at Stadium 974.

Having lost star forward Neymar to injury during their opening win against Serbia, the Selecao had been forced into a tactical reshuffle for their second match at Qatar 2022.

But despite a front three of Vinicius Junior, Richarlison and Raphinha, Tite's side ultimately needed veteran midfielder Casemiro to see them through without their talisman in a tight Group G encounter.

Victory in Doha means Brazil join defending champions France in the last 16, though defeat for Switzerland still leaves them in second place, with their fate in their own hands.

Operating with a wide offensive approach, Brazil had frequently harried their opponents but seldom left Yann Sommer seriously troubled between the posts before the interval.

An increase in tempo after the break brought sharper opportunities, with Breel Embolo tormenting Alisson after a blocked clearance and Richarlison agonisingly close to a looping Vinicius ball.

The latter looked to have put Brazil on top after a Swiss defensive lapse just after the hour mark, only for VAR to chalk his neat finish off for a contentious offside call against team-mate Richarlison.

But Casemiro struck late on, catching a Rodrygo ball on the half-volley to leave a bulging mark in the net and keep the Selecao on course in their pursuit of a first World Cup triumph for two decades.

Richarlison believes God recognised his effort to get to the World Cup, as the Brazil forward turned his focus to Monday's clash with Switzerland.

Tottenham attacker Richarlison scored both of the Selecao's goals in their opening 2-0 win over Serbia on Thursday.

After bundling in a rebound, Richarlison scored the goal of the tournament so far to double Brazil's tally, sending an acrobatic attempt into the left-hand corner.

Richarlison has scored nine goals in his last seven appearances for Brazil in all competitions, becoming the eighth Brazilian to score a brace on his World Cup debut, and first since Neymar in 2014.

Since his debut for the national side in September 2018, Richarlison has scored more goals in all competitions for Brazil than any other player (19).

 

However, his World Cup participation was in doubt when he suffered a calf injury while in action for Spurs against his former side Everton in October.

"A few weeks ago, I was crying, not sure if it would come," Richarlison said, as quoted by the CBF's official website.

"On the day of the exam, it was one of the longest days of my life. I remember it was a day off and I went for the exam, I stayed on the stretcher waiting for the result to come out.

"The doctors went back and forth, I got nervous and time went slowly.

"So, I think it was worth all the effort in my recovery. God saw my effort, saw how much I wanted to come to the World Cup.

"That's it, now it's time to continue. We did the main thing, which was to win the first game, which is very important. Now it's time to think about the second game and rest well. It was the first, now there are six more important games."

Brazil are favourites to top Group G, but Switzerland will be no pushovers. They won their first match too, beating Cameroon 1-0 thanks to Breel Embolo's goal.

Switzerland are looking to win their opening two games at a World Cup for the first time. They last won consecutive games in the competition in 2006 against Togo and South Korea.

Brazil will be without Neymar, however, with their talisman having suffered an ankle injury against Serbia that will see him miss the meeting with Switzerland, though coach Tite was confident the Paris Saint-Germain star will feature again in Qatar.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Brazil – Vinicius Junior

Richarlison rightly took the limelight for his efforts against Serbia, but he is not the only quality attacker Brazil have at their disposal.

With Neymar out, the onus will be on Vinicius Junior – who has shown his world-class ability at Real Madrid – to step up.

Before he was taken off inside the final 15 minutes of Thursday's match, Vinicius had been involved of 50 per cent of Brazil's 16 shots, having four attempts himself and creating as many chances, including the assist for Richarlison's stunning second.

Switzerland – Breel Embolo

Embolo has scored in three of his last four matches for Switzerland, with all three of his strikes being the winner in each game.

The last Swiss player to score in consecutive World Cup games was Alexander Frei in 2006, while the only players to score in Switzerland's first two games at a World Cup are Leopold Kielholz in 1934 and Andre Abegglen in 1938.

PREDICTION

Brazil are unbeaten in their last 16 group stage games at the World Cup, and they are aiming to become the first team to go 17 without defeat in the group stages of the competition.

Opta's model backs them to do just that, giving Brazil a 62.7 per cent chance of victory.

The probability of a draw is 21 per cent, while Opta rate the likelihood of a Switzerland win at 16.3 per cent.

Marquinhos believes the strength of Brazil's squad will allow them to stay at "this level" even as Neymar misses Monday's game against Switzerland through injury.

Brazil impressed in beating Serbia 2-0 in their World Cup opener, but they lost Neymar to an ankle injury following a brutal 80 minutes in which he was fouled nine times.

While the Paris Saint-Germain forward has not been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament, he will not feature in the Selecao's next match.

An injury to Neymar in the 2014 World Cup was followed by Brazil losing 7-1 to Germany, but Marquinhos believes this team – the tournament favourites – can cope with his absence.

"[We are] 100 per cent confident," the defender said.

"We wish we could have Neymar playing with us, we would love to have 26 players fully available, but we are ready and confident we will be able to show our group is strong, well trained, and ready for any difficulties we might face.

"Injuries happen, we must all be aware of these possibilities. We must be wise enough to see everybody has an important role to play, the importance of the ones who were not starting and came in.

"Now we have injuries, it's important that the ones who replace them are ready for the moment so we can play our best. I believe taking into account this talent, we'll be able to keep this level."

Asked how Neymar was feeling, Marquinhos added: "We took some time to digest the situation.

"Right after the game, he was sad. I think that's normal, because he dreamt so much about the World Cup and now he's suffered an injury. As a player, we all understand what he's going through.

"Today, after the tests, the training, the treatment, he's going through physio 24 hours a day, working very hard. It shows how much he wants to be fit and ready.

"We don't know how long it will take. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope he will be fit physically and emotionally very soon."

Marquinhos was also asked about Lionel Messi, another Paris Saint-Germain team-mate, who scored a vital goal for Argentina to keep their World Cup dream alive in what appears likely to be his last finals.

The Albiceleste are Brazil's bitter rivals, but Marquinhos said: "These players... Messi is not just an Argentina player, Cristiano [Ronaldo] not only a Portugal player – they are more than that.

"They are a privilege to football, for all football lovers, so everyone who wants football to evolve and loves football knows how precious they are.

"They do not belong only to their countries. All of us, we enjoy their presence and to see them playing.

"I have played with Messi, Neymar, other great players, and I benefit from their presence. We should all enjoy their presence as much as we can.

"But life goes on, and we know that other generations will come, new great players will come. We have to enjoy the great football as much as we can, keep looking for new players – that's what football is about. Other great players had important moments."

Neymar described the injury that has put his World Cup on ice as "one of the hardest moments of my career" after the Brazil star was sidelined by an ankle problem.

He has been ruled out of the Selecao's second Group G game against Switzerland on Monday and could also miss the tussle with Cameroon four days later.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward suffered a heavy knock to his right ankle after a challenge from Nikola Milenkovic in Thursday's 2-0 win against Serbia, needing to be substituted in the 80th minute.

He was fouled nine times in the game, more than any other player in a World Cup matchday one group game in Qatar. The next highest number was the five sustained by Spain's Gavi against Costa Rica.

Neymar is looking to crown his fine career with a World Cup triumph, and he is confident about getting back to full fitness and playing a role later in the tournament.

"The pride and love I feel for wearing the shirt has no explanation," he wrote on Instagram. "If God gave me the opportunity to choose a country to be born, it would be BRAZIL.

"Nothing in my life was given or easy. I always had to chase my dreams and my goals. Never wishing evil on anyone but helping those in need.

"Today has become one of the hardest moments in my career... and again in a World Cup. I have an injury yes, it's annoying, it's going to hurt but I'm sure I'll have the chance to come back because I will do my best to help my country, my team-mates and myself."

He was seen in tears on the Brazil bench towards the end of the game, and it would be a grim state of affairs for the 30-year-old if his injury is not one he quickly shakes off.

Neymar added: "Wait a long time for the enemy to knock me down like this? NEVER! I am a CHILD OF THE IMPOSSIBLE GOD and my FAITH is endless."

Fitness worries at the World Cup are nothing new for Neymar. He was forced out of the 2014 finals, which Brazil hosted, when he suffered a back injury in the quarter-final win against Colombia.

Across the 2014 and 2018 World Cups combined, Neymar was fouled a leading 44 times – or once every 21 minutes, more often than any other player impeded on at least 25 occasions.

Neymar and Danilo have been ruled out of Brazil's clash with Switzerland through injury.

Both players sustained ankle problems in Thursday's 2-0 win over Serbia with Neymar later seen in tears on the bench after being caught by a strong challenge from Nikola Milenkovic.

Brazilian media were speculating the Paris Saint-Germain forward was unlikely to play again until the knockout phase but doctor Rodrigo Lasmar would only go as far as confirming both players would not be ready to take on Switzerland on Monday.

He said: "Neymar and Danilo started treatment on their injuries immediately after our match on Thursday.

"This morning they were re-evaluated, we thought it was important to have MRI scans in order to have further information regarding the recovery of both players.

"The scans showed a lateral ligament injury on Neymar's right ankle and a medial ligament injury on Danilo's left ankle.

"Both players remain in treatment. It's very important that we remain calm, tranquil and we will re-evaluate daily, in order to have the best information and make the best decisions regarding the injuries.

"We can tell you that both players will not play in the next match, but they remain in treatment and our objective is for them to recover in time for the rest of the competition."

 

The loss to injury of Neymar - Brazil's star man - should come as no surprise as he was once again targeted by the opposition at the Lusail Stadium.

He was fouled nine times by Serbia players, one shy of his own Brazil World Cup record (10 versus Switzerland in 2018), before being substituted with 10 minutes to play.

Across the 2014 and 2018 World Cups combined, Neymar was fouled a leading 44 times – or once every 21 minutes, more often than any other player impeded on at least 25 occasions.

Cameroon coach Rigobert Song made no secret of his pride in Breel Embolo despite the Switzerland forward scoring the winning goal against his birth nation at the World Cup on Thursday.

Embolo's second-half strike from Xherdan Shaqiri's cross proved decisive as Switzerland won 1-0 at Al Janoub Stadium, giving Switzerland a victorious start to their Group G campaign.

The goal was even more notable due to the fact Embolo was born in Cameroon but represents Switzerland after spending much of his childhood there.

Despite not choosing to play for the nation of his birth, Embolo retains links to the country and Song revealed the pair share a strong personal relationship.

As such, Song felt a degree of pride in seeing Embolo prevail on Thursday.

Asked if he had preferred Embolo to have played for Cameroon, Song told reporters: "Yes, but that's the nature of the game.

"We are all proud of our country, you saw he didn't celebrate his goal. But again this [players representing other countries] is part and parcel of football.

"I'm happy for him and proud of him. Because he's playing for the Switzerland team, yes I'd have liked him on my side, but that's not the way it went. That's just the way of life.

"For us the most important thing is how we played, rather than who scored against us."

Song and Embolo shared a warm embrace at full-time, with the former explaining it was important to greet the Monaco player as a show of respect.

"We know each other, he's my little brother, I'm like the big brother, we've often spoken on the phone as well," Song said.

"I wanted to congratulate him, it's fair play. Because we are from the same family [country] but on different teams, it doesn't mean we are not going to be on good terms.

"He had a good game, I wanted to tell him. I'm not going to be a sore loser, we're still brothers at the end of the day."

Switzerland boss Murat Yakin was less forthcoming than Song in general as he addressed the media afterwards, but he did express a hint of pleasure in the narrative behind Embolo's goal.

"We know his story, his past in Cameroon," he added. "Well, you can be friendly up to kick-off and then they are your opponents.

"[Embolo's story] is football, it's writing history, these stories. Of course, he wants to score for his team and he fulfilled his task, so we are very happy. He had good moments through the match. He fulfilled his task well."

Switzerland face Brazil next on Monday, while Cameroon will hope to bounce back against Serbia the same day – another defeat will see them equal Mexico's all-time record for the most successive World Cup losses (nine).

Breel Embolo scored the winner against his birth nation as Switzerland beat Cameroon 1-0 at Al Janoub Stadium in their World Cup Group G opener on Thursday.

The Yaounde-born attacker refused to celebrate his second-half tap-in but his goal sparked jubilant scenes for the Swiss at full-time as Murat Yakin's side inflicted Cameroon's eighth successive World Cup defeat, one shy of the record.

The Indomitable Lions had the better of the first half and kept Yann Sommer relatively busy in the Switzerland net, though there were a couple of warning signs for Cameroon just before the break.

Embolo had been involved in one of those incidents and was fittingly the man to break the deadlock in the 48th minute, with Switzerland ultimately good value for the win after an effective second-half display.

Cameroon began with the greater purpose and should have scored 10 minutes in as Bryan Mbeumo blasted at Sommer and Karl Toko Ekambi inexplicably blasted over on the rebound.

Undeterred, Cameroon continued to look more threatening, with Martin Hongla testing Sommer from a tight angle 20 minutes later, and a crucial Silvan Widmer clearance denied Toko Ekambi a tap-in.

Switzerland finished the half stronger, however, and only a last-ditch Jean-Charles Castelletto tackle prevented Embolo a certain goal before Manuel Akanji nodded just wide in stoppage time.

But there was no denying Embolo just after the break as the Monaco forward swept home from Xherdan Shaqiri's low right-wing cross.

Andre Onana kept Cameroon in the contest just past the hour with a fine stop to thwart Ruben Vargas, but Rigobert Song's men were unable to capitalise at the other end.


What does it mean? Vital win for Switzerland as things only get tougher from here

With Brazil and Serbia to come, it was essential Switzerland came through this with a positive result – and that they did.

It certainly was not a vintage performance from a side Yakin called "one of the best Swiss national teams that have ever existed", but in the second half they often played with real fluency.

Switzerland are one of only three European teams to reach the knockout stages in each of the past four major international tournaments, and this was a big step to continuing that streak in Qatar.

Shaqiri dependable as ever

He may not carry quite the same influence over Switzerland's general play as he once did, but Shaqiri just always seems to deliver for his national team. His cross, cleverly pulled back slightly, gave Embolo an easy finish for the winner, giving the experienced winger his 12th goal involvement for the Swiss over the last four major tournaments, exactly 50 per cent of their total.

Vargas frustrates

He was full of running and endeavour, but this was largely a frustrating display from the left winger. Although his two chances created was a high for Switzerland, he wasted two glorious opportunities: one saw him slice a cross over the goal with Granit Xhaka awaiting a tap-in, and the second involved him failing to beat Onana from close range.

What's next?

Switzerland face the ultimate test when they tussle with Brazil on Monday. Cameroon will play Serbia the same day.

Switzerland will be looking to extend an impressive unbeaten streak across opening World Cup encounters when they face off with Cameroon at Al Janoub Stadium in Group G on Thursday.

The Swiss arrive at Qatar 2022 having not been defeated in their first match of the tournament since a 5-0 loss against Germany in 1966.

What is more, they will be hoping to reach the knockout stages for the third successive time, after last-16 finishes at Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018.

They will  be relying on experienced heads as they meet African opposition for the second time at the World Cup too, having last faced Togo at Germany 2006.

Vice-captain Xherdan Shaqiri may have bowed out at European club level to play in MLS, but he has been directly involved in 48 per cent of their 23 goals in their last four major tournaments, with eight goals and three assists.

In his fourth World Cup, the attacking midfielder says his nation are unfancied in a group alongside Brazil and Serbia, but added: "There are always underdogs who maybe surprise.

"So we will see which team this is going to be. I hope Switzerland is one of them."

Cameroon arrive at their eighth World Cup, the most among African nations, while they have only been outscored by Nigeria among teams from their continent at the competition.

But they have lost each of their previous seven World Cup matches, a record only beaten by Mexico's nine consecutive defeats between 1930 and 1958.

One man hoping to make a difference for Rigobert Song's side will be Bryan Mbeumo, with the former France youth international only switching his allegiance in August.

"I've always wanted to play a World Cup since I was young," he stated. "Just to walk around the pitch with a big crowd and other stuff would be amazing. It's going to be crazy inside me."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Switzerland – Breel Embolo

The Cameroon-born forward was his side's top scorer during qualifying, with three goals to his name. He scored twice during their Nations League matches in September too and the Monaco attacker will hope he can carry that form over to the World Cup

Cameroon – Vincent Aboubakar

If there is a man with unfinished business among their ranks, it will be the Al-Nassr man, fresh from eight goals at the 2021 African Cup of Nations. The forward has failed to register a single shot on target during four previous World Cup matches, and will hope to break his duck.

PREDICTION

With a cast-iron record in both recent tournament results and opening World Cup matches, Switzerland will be fancied to seal victory in this first game against Cameroon.

According to Stats Perform's AI model, Yakin's side have a 56.5 per cent chance of winning the game, compared to Cameroon's 18 per cent. That said, both teams could well prove tougher to split, with a 25.5 per cent chance of a draw instead.

Cameroon forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is sad for Senegal, Africa and Sadio Mane after his Bayern Munich team-mate was ruled out of the World Cup.

African player of the year Mane was initially expected to feature in Qatar and was named in Senegal's 26-man squad, despite sustaining a leg injury in Bayern's 6-1 win over Werder Bremen on November 8.

But the former Liverpool forward saw his World Cup dreams shattered last Thursday as Senegal confirmed surgery would be required for the 30-year-old's fibula issue, thus ruling him out of the tournament.

Choupo-Moting and Cameroon face Switzerland in Thursday's Group G opener but much of the striker's focus appeared to be with team-mate Mane.

"I'm very sad for him, and for both Senegal and for Africa. He's a great player and a great person as well," Choupo-Moting said on Tuesday.

"I'm very happy that he joined us at Bayern. I'm very, very upset and sad for him that this injury came just before the World Cup.

"Injuries are always part of the game, unfortunately, I don't know why it came at the wrong moment but we are all with him. 

"He's a positive guy who will keep his positive energy. I hope he will come back stronger."

Cameroon have lost their last seven games at the World Cup (between 2002 and 2014), with only Mexico losing more consecutive outings at FIFA's top tournament, nine from 1930 to 1958.

But Rigobert Song's side impressed with 14 goals at the Africa Cup of Nations, five more than any other team, and the most at the competition since Egypt in 2010 (15).

Choupo-Moting has also managed a talismanic nine goals in 14 games for Bayern and he expects his hard work to pay dividends for Cameroon in Qatar.

"There's no secret, it's work; you have to work and believe in yourself," he added. "I know my qualities. I know I have a lot of qualities and with my team-mates, each one can make a difference. 

"There is always this pressure, every game is important and Cameroon expects us to win every game. We concentrate game after game. First, it's Switzerland and then we'll see."

England and six other nations have confirmed their players will not wear the OneLove armband at the World Cup.

The move comes after FIFA threatened to book captains if they broke regulations and made their own statements on social issues, rather than following guidelines from the game’s governing body.

OneLove, which promotes "inclusion and sends a message against discrimination of any kind", has grown in significance in the build-up to the tournament in Qatar, a country in which homosexuality is illegal.

But, following extensive discussions between FIFA and an alliance of football associations – England, Wales, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands – the armband will now not be worn.

A joint statement read: "FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play.

"As national federations, we can't put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games.

"We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.

"We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented – we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response.

"Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways."

England open their World Cup campaign against Iran later on Monday.

In a separate statement, the Dutch FA (KNVB) – the OneLove campaign originated in the Netherlands - expressed its anger and disappointment at FIFA's stance.

It read: "The KNVB and the players of the Dutch national team would like to convey a positive message with OneLove and against all forms of discrimination.

"We wanted to do that at the World Cup together with England, Wales, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark.

"The UEFA working group, of which the KNVB is part, asked FIFA on September 19 to embrace the OneLove captain's armband. Today, hours before the first match, FIFA has (officially) made it clear to 

us that the captain will receive a yellow card if he wears the OneLove captain's armband.

"We deeply regret that is has not been possible to reach a reasonable solution together.

"We stand with the OneLove message and continue to carry it out, but our first priority at the World Cup is to win matches. You don't want the captain to start the match by getting a yellow card. That is why we had to decide with pain in our hearts - as a UEFA working group, the KNVB and as a team – to abandon our plan.

"As previously announced, the KNVB would have paid a possible fine for wearing the OneLove captain's armband but that FIFA would punish us for this on the field was not expected.

"This goes against the spirit of our sport which connects millions of people. In the coming period, together with the other countries involved, we will take a critical look at our relationship with FIFA."

England and six other nations have confirmed their players will not wear the OneLove armband at the World Cup.

The move comes after FIFA threatened to book captains if they broke regulations and made their own statements on social issues, rather than following guidelines from the game’s governing body.

OneLove, which promotes "inclusion and sends a message against discrimination of any kind", has grown in significance in the build-up to the tournament in Qatar, a country in which homosexuality is illegal.

But, following extensive discussions between FIFA and an alliance of football associations – England, Wales, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands – the armband will now not be worn.

A joint statement read: "FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play.

"As national federations, we can't put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games.

"We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.

"We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented – we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response.

"Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways."

England open their World Cup campaign against Iran later on Monday.

Yann Sommer's return from injury provided a boost for Switzerland as they announced their 26-man squad for the FIFA World Cup.

The Borussia Monchengladbach goalkeeper, who suffered an ankle injury in a DFB-Pokal defeat to Darmstadt three weeks ago, is one of four goalkeepers named in Murat Yakin’s squad, with concerns over the fitness of Sommer and Jonas Omlin.

Switzerland have named an experienced squad and will be hoping to build on their impressive performance at Euro 2020, which saw them defeat then-reigning champions France before losing on penalties to Spain in the quarter-finals.

Manchester City's Manuel Akanji and Newcastle United stalwart Fabian Schar make up an experienced centre-back combination, with Fulham’s right-back Kevin Mbabu a surprise absentee in defence.

Granit Xhaka will be looking to carry his fine early-season form with Arsenal into Qatar 2022, with the experienced midfielder selected alongside Chelsea's on-loan Denis Zakaria and new Nottingham Forest-signing Remo Freuler in the middle of the park.
 
Former Liverpool winger Xherdan Shaqiri, who now plays for Chicago Fire, will feature in his fourth FIFA World Cup and will be looking to add to his 108 caps for the national side. 

Galatasaray forward Haris Seferovic, who has 25 goals for Switzerland, provides experience to a forward line that also boasts the talents of Breel Embolo and Salzburg youngster Noah Okafor.

In a statement, coach Yakin said: "We were spoilt for choice in some positions.

"Many players have delivered convincing performances in recent weeks and months. But in the end, I had to limit myself to 26 names. I'm convinced that these 26 players can always help us to achieve our goals."

Switzerland begin their difficult Group G campaign on November 24 against Cameroon before facing familiar opposition in Brazil and Serbia, who were both part of the Swiss' 2018 World Cup group.

Switzerland Squad: Gregor Kobel (Borussia Dortmund), Philipp Kohn (Salzburg), Jonas Omlin (Montpellier), Yann Sommer (Borussia Monchengladbach); Manuel Akanji (Manchester City), Eray Comert (Valencia), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Monchengladbach), Edimilson Fernandes (Mainz), Ricardo Rodriguez (Torino), Fabian Schar (Newcastle), Silvan Widmer (Mainz); Michel Aebischer (Bologna), Christian Fassnacht (Young Boys), Fabian Frei (Basel), Remo Freuler (Nottingham Forest), Ardon Jashari (Lucerne), Fabian Rieder (Young Boys), Xherdan Shaqiri (Chicago Fire), Djibril Sow (Eintracht Frankfurt), Renato Steffen (Lugano), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Denis Zakaria (Chelsea); Breel Embolo (Monaco), Noah Okafor (Salzburg), Haris Seferovic (Benfica, loan to Galatasaray), Ruben Vargas (Augsburg).

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka is not concerned by the number of minutes he has played this season and the risk of injury ahead of the World Cup.

The Switzerland international has started all but one of the Gunners' matches across all competitions this season, combining with Thomas Partey or Albert Sambi Lokonga in midfield.

Xhaka's influence has played a huge part in Arsenal's fine start to the season, including scoring the only goal of the game in Thursday's victory over PSV in the Europa League – sealing qualification for the knockout stages.

A packed schedule ahead of the World Cup, where Switzerland face Brazil, Serbia and Cameroon, will test the fitness limits of players this season, but that does not come into Xhaka's thought process.

"I'm not worried. The staff, the coach, they know how I am physically, how I look after myself. It's not the first time I'm doing this many games in a row, I've done this for the last 13 years," he said.

"I'm feeling very good. Every time you win, it makes it a little easier, but I'm not worried about my fitness, the World Cup or the future.

"I'm 30 years old, I know my body better than before. When you're young, you think differently, whereas now I know my body, what I need. Of course, you have the people around you helping you with the food, with the recovery, at the moment, everything is working well."

Asked if the risk of injury plays on his mind ahead of games, he added: "I don't think like this, I will never think like this when I go onto the pitch.

"This is football, it can happen in one second. You have to put your faith when there is a 50-50 ball. My personality, as people know, I will never go back on that."

With seven games to play before the World Cup, five of which are in the Premier League, Xhaka is aiming for the Arsenal squad to capitalise on their position four points clear at the summit and remain top of the pile for the mid-season halt.

"It has to be the aim. We're there now, we need to be there as long as possible," he said.

"If we have the chance to stay where we are at the moment, then the World Cup comes, maybe it's good for everyone, for us as well, to prepare something else for January."

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