Saturday, June 21, 2014

France 5 - Switzerland 2

France came out firing on all cylinders against its neutral neighbors, jumping out to a five-nil lead before conceding two late consolation goals.  It was interesting to see Didier Deschamps switch to a midfield diamond for this fixture, after utilizing the expected 4-3-3 in the opener against Honduras.

The move paid dividends with the incoming Olivier Giroud scoring the opener and showing signs of chemistry with partner in crime Karim Benzema.  A surging run forward and tidy finish by Blaise Matuidi gave Les Bleus a second, while Mathieu Valbuena took advantage of his central berth to score France’s third.  In between, Benzema obliged to miss a penalty, though he made amends by scoring the fourth and assisting on Moussa Sissoko’s fifth.

Though it made no difference to this game, Switzerland grabbed two late tallies through half-time substitute Blerim Dzemaili and Gladbach’s midfield orchestrator Granit Xhaka.

Inconsequential for the three points on the day, but useful in the larger scope of Group E.  Despite two convincing wins to start the tournament, France still isn’t totally secured of advancing to the knockout rounds.  A heavy loss to Ecuador in the group finale combined with a Swiss victory over Honduras (the only CONCACAF nation without a win it must be said) could yet see Deschamps’s crew miss out.

That doesn’t seem likely however, with this win showing off the depth and tactical flexibility in the French ranks.  Giroud taking Antoine Griezmann’s spot in the starting eleven was a given considering the switch to the diamond, but Moussa Sissoko coming in for Paul Pogba was rather interesting.  Pogba’s form has been topsy turvy since the turn of the year and Sissoko’s performance against the Swiss means Deschamps has a question to answer before the battle against Ecuador.

No Short Corners Man of the Match: Mathieu Valbuena. I wanted to give it to him after the first game, this time around I won’t deny him.

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