5 Things for France Fans to Look Forward to in Wake of Win vs. Switzerland
France’s 5-2 mauling of Switzerland has seen Didier Deschamp’s men announce themselves as genuine contenders for the FIFA World Cup title in Brazil.
Goals from Olivier Giroud, Blaise Matuidi, Mathieu Valbuena, Karim Benzema and Moussa Sissoko saw the French down their main Group E rivals to seize top spot and the scoreline could have remained more impressive had they not lost their concentration and conceded two late goals.
Les Bleus will need to pass sterner tests if they are to make it to the latter stages and beyond, but it was still an impressive performance against Ottmar Hitzfeld’s well-drilled Swiss side. To score that many goals against a side that had only conceded twice in eight World Cup matches is an impressive feat and it adds substance to the hype that followed a 3-0 opening win over Honduras.
With qualification now all but assured, Deschamps’ men can feel satisfied that they have banished all memories of their previous under-performances in the 2010 edition and the 2012 European Championships.
Here are five things that France supporters have to look forward to in the wake of that emphatic 5-2 win over Switzerland.
Restored to the starting XI after sitting out the opening fixture against Honduras, Giroud put in a superb 63-minute performance before being substituted. With one goal and an assist, the Arsenal man was excellent as the focal point of the France attack and the No. 9 should have played himself into Deschamps’ first-choice staring XI for now.
Question marks remain over his ability to replicate his performance against the Swiss when the French face more challenging opponents, but the 27-year-old certainly deserves the chance to start against Ecuador at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro next week.
Topping Group E
With that win over Switzerland, France are now almost certain to top Group E and advance to the last 16. Only a final round shock of epic proportions will see Les Bleus fail to make it past the group stage now.
1998 - #FRA have won their first 2 group games at the World Cup for the 1st time since 1998. Relief.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) June 20, 2014
Ecuador are the final opponents for Deschamps’ side and—based on their two performances so far—there is little for France to fear when facing the South Americans.
The French should advance comfortably and a maximum nine-point total is a distinct possibility.
Not only was Giroud on form against Switzerland, but Benzema also put in another excellent performance.
The Real Madrid man reacted well after missing a penalty in the first half and finished the game with a goal and two assists. With three from his first two matches, Benzema is delivering like never before for France.
3 - Karim Benzema has scored 3 goals in this World Cup, as many as Zinedine Zidane & Thierry Henry in the whole 2006 edition. Hurried.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) June 20, 2014
Loosely deployed on the left of the front three—the position usually occupied by Franck Ribery—the 26-year-old looked equally as effective as he did through the middle against Honduras. Another goal-scoring performance against Ecuador next week and France’s potential opponents in the latter stages will fear him more than they already do.
Deschamps’ Tactical Genius
Prior to the Switzerland clash, many were questioning the logic of Deschamps fixing what was not broken after the 3-0 win over Honduras, but it proved to be an excellent decision that displayed some brilliant tactical nous.
Out came Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba, in came Giroud and Sissoko and both proved to be inspired alterations.
Giroud tormented the Swiss physically, Sissoko showed boundless energy and enthusiasm in midfield, excelling in his role that was designed to aid right-back Mathieu Debuchy.
Some have questioned Deschamps’ ability to coach a World Cup-winning side, but if he continues like this, France may well reach the final. The 45-year-old has his team where he wants them right now and has shown that he is not afraid to make the big and important calls.
Winnable Clash with Ecuador
Despite all of the positives from the Switzerland match, though, France must not get carried away as they still have one Group E fixture remaining and it is a thoroughly winnable one on face value.
So far, Les Bleus have been taking this World Cup one step at a time and they must continue to do so, even with their safe passage to the last 16 all but assured.
France are not officially in the last 16. If Ecuador beat France by 4-0 and Switzerland beat Honduras 5-0 France are OUT.— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) June 20, 2014
Ecuador looked good in spells against Switzerland and fought back well to beat Honduras, but France will not have seen anything there to bother them too much and Deschamps will be looking for another free-flowing and attack-minded performance from his players.