The Men’s Challengers : who can stop England v France ?

We know that England will be the ones to beat in Uster – a quick glance at the event’s history and the squad lists is enough to tell us that. The same stats suggest that it will be another England v France final too.

But if either of those are not to happen, who are the most likely candidates to bring that about ???

Looking at the Men first (it may take a while, but we do come to a verdict at the end!)


The defending campions are fielding Mohamed ElShorbagy (WR7), Marwan ElShorbagy (WR9), Adrian Waller (WR24), Patrick Rooney (WR27), Nick Wall (WR34) and Curtis Malik (WR38).

With that squad they’ll be confident of navigating their Pool matches (Ireland, Wales then Spain) before taking on whatever challengers the playoffs provide.

[2] FRANCE :

Second seeds France are the only country other than England to be ETC Champions since 1992, their three wins coming in 2015, 17 and 18.

Pitching France’s top four of Victor Crouin, Baptiste Masotti, Sebastien Bonmalais and Auguste Dussourd (with Gregoire Marche at 5)against England’s top four doesn’t make good reading for the French, according to the world rankings at least, with the England player ranked higher in each case – but none of those WR gaps suggest any sort of chasm, so a four-nil win either way is certainly within the bounds of possibility.

If they meet it will almost certainly be in the final, barring a big upset in either pool. France’s biggest challenge in the Pools is likely to come against hosts Switzerland – the second match on the opening day for both teams.


The hosts secured their first-ever podium finish last year in Helsinki, perfect timing with the next event happening in Uster!

With Nicolas Mueller (WR23) and Dimitri Steinmann (WR28) at the top of the order and a home crowd to urge them on, you couldn’t rule out the Swiss pair taking out one or both of the ElShorbagy brothers or winning against the French top two – although to be fair you can easily see them both losing out.

If Switzerland meet England it will most likely be in the semi-finals having finished runners-up in the Pool, although if they can upset France and navigate an ‘easier’ semi-final it could be in the final.

Switzerland’s problem in either scenario is the strength-in-depth of their opponents. France can field a bottom two with a combined WR in the fifties, whereas all of Switzerland’s lower order are higher than that individually.

Not insurmountable for a home team – especially if the playing order puts the top two on first for a winning start – but definitely a challenge.

This was France’s problem for many years – in Thierry Lincou and Gregory Gaultier they had players who could challenge and often beat England’s best, but the English would invariably mop up at numbers 3 and 4, and usually 3-0 which meant France’s top guns also had to win 3-0.

Switzerland meet Germany in their opening Pool match, then France later on the opening day.

[4] WALES :

Back in the days of David Evans and Alex Gough Wales were strong challengers, and were podium finishers in all but one of the years from 1998 to 2010.

But, suffering as above with weaker backup players, they only ever made one final, and more often than not would field a weakened team in the semi-final to save themselves for the 3rd/4th match.

Now they have one of the top players in the tournament in Joel Makin (WR10), but the rest of their squad is ranked no higher than #80, and up against the English or the French the stats would suggest a 3-1 or 4-0 defeat.

However the Welsh meet Spain in their first pool match, a tie which will in all probability decide who joins England in the semi-finals.

[5] SPAIN :

Surprise finalists in 2019 after a dramatic semi-final win over defending champions France, Spain have a reasonably strong top order with Iker Pajares and Bernat Jaume both in the top 50, and while Ivan Perez and Edmon Lopez are both currently outside the top 100 they have the pedigree to perform way above that level.

Would it be enough to upset either of the top two … probably not. They face Wales in the opening Pool match and if they win that a loss to England would likely put them up against France in the semis.


The Germans have been there or thereabouts for the last several years – podium finishes in 8 of the last 10 editions (they reached three finals in the 90s, but not since). For most of that time they had Simon Rosner at the helm – he’s still there, but now ‘retired’ and playing lower down the order.

So Raphael Kandra (WR31) leads a squad with only one other player (Yannik Omlor) in the top 100, and while it’s hard to see them troubling the French in their Pool, they could certainly cause the Swiss some difficulties in the opening match – Kandra can certainly beat Mueller, Steinmann would probably win, then it would be down to the lower order.

[7] Czechia & [8] Ireland :

Many apologies, but we’re not looking at the bottom two seeds – promoted from Division Two last year – as potential semi-finalists, it’s likely that staving off relegation will be their priorities.


Much as it would be great to see some stirring upsets, with the Swiss crowd a huge factor as the hosts take on both France and England at various stages of the tournament, we still forsee England v France in the final.

As is always the case though, one fantastic upset, one inopportune injury, and all of this could be out of the window – bu that’s the glory of Team Squash !!

Next time we’ll look at the women’s challengers …