The two heavyweights of Group E, as Switzerland took on France in a game where the winner would be more or less through to the Round of 16. In a game where France finally had to show they weren’t the side that almost lost to Ukraine in the play-offs, it was a highly tense affair.
France were coming out on a super 3-0 win over Honduras and Switzerland had made a super comeback against Ecuador. Olivier Giroud made his first start and he replaced Paul Pogba, while both Swiss goalscorers of their last game, started the game.
The scoreline read Switzerland 2 – 5 France, but it could’ve and should’ve been worse. A splendid display from the Champions of ‘98, they left Salvador as real favourites for this tournament.
The game started with the Swiss on the back foot, as Cabaye and Co. ran riot in the opposition half. The scoring was opened by former Montpellier striker Olivier Giroud who powered in a strong header only for Diego Benaglio to get help it on its way in. It was France’s 100th World Cup Finals goal, so kudos to them. France had their goal and it was looking good for Les Bleus. 66 seconds later, France doubled their advantage as Switzerland gave the ball away for Benzema to play it to P$G Blaise Matuidi who drove his shot in. The keeper was really slow to react and should’ve done better. The gap between these French goals was the quickest this WC, with Robben and Cahill claiming the previous record in their game with 70 seconds. Switzerland’s plan had been blown apart by this effervescent French attack and it seemed we were about to witness a real thrashing. Benzema earned a penalty and became the first player to miss a penalty this world cup and Diego Benaglio saved the shot and the subsequent rebound shot by Yohan Cabaye, hit the bar. But, it was the little man of France who made it 3-0 before half time. A long ball from half-half reached Olivier Giroud who fed it to Mathieu Valbuena, who put France in cruise control. At halftime, Didier Deschamps would be pleased as his decision to play Giroud had reaped benefits. He looked brilliant on the ball and exuded a lot of class. At halftime it was 3-0. Switzerland’s defence was in tatters and the 6th best team in the world had lots to improve. They had already conceded more goals in the opening half versus France than they did in their previous eight World Cup matches (2). At halftime it was 3-0. Switzerland had had many negatives in the first period, but at least their flag was a big plus.
The second half began with the men in Red doing considerably better than the first. They had a few chances, only to be stopped by a disciplined showing by the French back 4. France dominated possession and chances, with Diego Benaglio being the difference between 8-0 and 3-0. Finally, Karim Benzema’s moment arrived. An exquisite lofted pass by Paul Pogba which left Senderos stranded and Benzema scored through the keeper’s legs and equalled Müller, Robben and van Persie as top scorer. A goal of real class. It became a 5 star performance as Moussa Sissoko hammered a low shot across goal and it was a breathtaking finish. There was more drama as Switzerland scored twice in a space of 6 minutes as Blerim Dzemaili scored a goal similar to Benzema’s. Then Granit Xhaka scored a brilliant low freekick to beat Hugo Lloris and Switzerland got something to cheer about.
France had lots to be happy about as they have now scored 8 goals in 2 games and their display all around was really professional and something to be proud off. Well done Les Bleus. Swiss had a bad game but their performance in the last 20 minutes was something they should be proud off. arim Benzema has played a hand in five of France’s eight goals so far in the 2014 (three goals, two assists). France have all but qualified for the next round and Switzerland will need to work if they want to go through.
Our Man Of The Match/FIFA Man Of The Match – Karim Benzema
Became the first French player to miss a penalty since ’98, but was otherwise excellent. Took his goal brilliantly and his roaming across the front three posed plenty of problems. Cruelly denied a great goal in stoppage time. Got 2 assists and is a real contender for the Golden Boot.
Our Flop Of The Match – Valon Behrami
Made several mistakes and no command on the game, and was substituted at half-time as a result, as the Napoli man had an evening to forget.