Switzerland vs. France: Tactical Preview of World Cup Group E Match

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJune 20, 2014

PORTO ALEGRE, BRAZIL - JUNE 15:  Blaise Matuidi of France controls the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group E match between France and Honduras at Estadio Beira-Rio on June 15, 2014 in Porto Alegre, Brazil.  (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
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The first round of group-stage matches is in the books at the FIFA World Cup 2014, and now we turn our attention to the second lot.

Switzerland and France, two sides who claimed important victories in their opening fixtures, go head-to-head with the winner likely a shoo-in to finish top of Group E.

 

Switzerland

The Swiss underwhelmed in dramatic fashion against Ecuador, and they currently sit in a strong position with three points solely due to a last-gasp winner which, arguably, they didn't deserve.

This eclectic mix of players—several regular starters claim an assortment of birthplaces before they eventually migrated to Switzerland—looked like strangers on the pitch for long periods last Sunday. It wasn't until Ottmar Hitzfeld shook things up at half-time that they really got going.

Probable Swiss XI. Mehmedi/Stocker, Seferovic/Drmic.
Probable Swiss XI. Mehmedi/Stocker, Seferovic/Drmic.@stighefootball

Granit Xhaka massively underwhelmed as a No. 10 and stands to struggle against France too, and that could force Xherdan Shaqiri into a central berth from the start this time.

Valentin Stocker will be lucky to get his place back, and the striking situation is anyone's guess, but at least the defence played well (enough) and Ricardo Rodriguez impressed.

 

France

France wowed us with an incredible, free-flowing display of football against Honduras in their opener, winning 3-0 in a game they could have feasibly scored eight in.

Didier Deschamps had the nous to place Karim Benzema in a system similar to the one he plays in at Real Madrid, with runners in and around him and giving him license to drop in and play-make from midfield.

Probable France XI.
Probable France XI.@stighefootball

Now he's found consistency, he is a top, top striker; Antoine Griezmann, Blaise Matuidi, Paul Pogba and Co. are the perfect players to fit around him.

The Swiss will test their patience and their skill in possession by pressing high and organising well.

 

2 Tactical Clashes

1. Tracking Midfield Runners

France's use of "slingshot CMs"—outside central midfielders in a "three" who cannon forward to create overloads in specific areas—crippled the Honduran defence.

It's a reckless tactic against bigger teams, as you're leaving your sole anchor (Yohan Cabaye) all alone if the ball breaks unfavourably, so it will be interesting to see if Deschamps tones it down to using just one.

Matuidi's box-to-box threat mapped.
Matuidi's box-to-box threat mapped.(via Squawka.com)

Matuidi fulfills this role for Paris Saint-Germain regularly, and him taking on Valon Behrami is a potentially mouth-watering clash. Does the Swiss midfielder have the physicality and awareness to contain him, and what of Gokhan Inler vs. Paul Pogba?

 

2. Stopping Rodriguez

Deschamps followed Vicente Del Bosque's lead in the first round of games, with both managers fielding a formation without a proper right-winger—though one plan came off decidedly better than the other.

Mathieu Debuchy owned the entire flank by himself, surging forward and dominating the entire length of the touchline and allowing Mathieu Valbuena to dip inside and find space to manipulate.

Against Ricardo Rodriguez and Stocker/Admir Mehmedi, that's not a good plan, as the French will need a winger in place to engage the runners much higher up the pitch.

If not, a Daley Blind vs. Spain situation will occur.

 

Bleacher Report will do a tactical preview and review of every single 2014 FIFA World Cup game. Stay tuned to this link and check it every day for more.