World Cup Group E | Salvador | Fri 20 Jun | 8pm
A bit of Alpine aggro in the battle for group supremacy.
If you’re only as good as your opposition, then it’s very difficult to judge France on their 3-0 stroll against Honduras, which they were dominating – if not on the scoreboard – even before Wilson Palacios was sent off for two bookable offences.
Switzerland can’t lose their discipline the way the Central Americans did against a slick-looking Les Bleus outfit, but they will need to start more aggressively than they did against Ecuador, who were out of the blocks like Usain Bolt.
Thankfully for the Swiss, it was they who finished like him, an injury-time winner not only securing three vital points – in what was seen, even before the tournament began, as a de facto play-off for second spot in the group – but also giving Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side great confidence going into this game against their western neighbours.
France should be unchanged while Switzerland could bring in striker Admir Mehmedi, who scored within minutes of coming off the bench, at the expense of the man he replaced at half-time, Valentin Stocker. The playmaker was blasted by the Swiss media for a lacklustre display against Ecuador. That change would, though, represent an adventurous approach against a confident France. A risk, but with probable whipping boys Honduras to come in the final came, probably one worth taking.
What the local media say
In the wake of victory against Honduras, L’Equipe said France aren’t missing the injured Franck Ribery because his absence has allowed Karim Benzema to emerge as a leader. But, they warn, the game against Switzerland is “the real test” for Les Bleus.
Key battle: Johan Djourou vs Karim Benzema
After getting the nod ahead of Fabian Schar and Philippe Senderos at centre-back, Djourou didn’t exactly cover himself in glory in the opening game, losing his man for Ecuador’s goal, causing a mix-up that nearly led to another and getting booked. He will need to be much improved against Benzema, who was on fire with a brace against Honduras. As you can see from the graphic, the Real Madrid striker will hold his position as the central striker, rarely going beyond the width of the 18-yard box or into his own half.
Facts and figures
- France are unbeaten in their last 5 games against Switzerland (W2 D3). La Nati's last win against their neighbours dates back to May 1992 in a friendly played in Lausanne (2-1).
- France have scored 99 goals in World Cup history. Only 4 teams (Brazil, Germany, Italy and Argentina) have netted more.
- 8 of Switzerland's last 10 goals at the World Cup have come in the second half.
More FFT Stats Zone facts
A draw would probably suit both teams. 2-2.