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World Cup Player Profile: Gökhan İnler

Lars Baron

Napoli's favorite Lion Man is no laughing matter to the Swiss national team. By 2011, when Gökhan İnler pulled off his feline mask to reveal himself as the newest Napoli player, the midfielder was already an integral part of la nati. He was part of the 2008 Euro squad that made hardly any mark on a tournament co-hosted by his country, then played all three of Switzerland's games in the 2010 World Cup.

Switzerland managed to beat Spain in South Africa, but they're looking to leave an even greater impression in Brazil. Drawn with France, Ecuador and Honduras, the Swiss have no excuse not to advance to the knockout stages. In fact, this young, talented squad has the potential to surprise, but they'll be relying on Inler's experience and strength to give them the balance needed for a deeper run.

Switzerland
Group E
Midfielder
Caps: 72, Goals: 6

Gökhan İnler

Service for Switzerland: Inler seemed to have a tough time deciding which national team he'd like to represent. He first represented Switzerland at the U21 level, then played one game for Turkey before declaring allegiance to the country of his birth. That was back in 2006. Now, the 29-year-old is captain for his country and a mainstay in the midfield.

What makes him interesting: Inler plays as one might expect of a stereotypical defensive midfielder. He'll stay deep, protecting the defense, and use his long passes to set up Switzerland's counter-attacks. But, Inler being Inler, he's also almost certain to go for a long shot as well. His strikes from 30 yards result in a goal about once every 70 tries, but it's certainly worth it to watch that one breathtaking shot.

What to expect in Brazil: Clinical ruthlessness from a cohesive squad, with Inler at the center of it all. Well, cohesiveness to a point. He and Valon Behrami had a much-publicized falling out this season, resulting in their barely playing together in Napoli matches. But it looks like Ottmar Hitzfeld will field both for Switzerland, so things could get dicey if the two haven't hugged it out before boarding the plane.