You never quite know what you’re going to get when France turn up to a World Cup, and at this year’s tournament, everybody would be wise to expect the unexpected once again. On paper, France have a group that they should win, and one that they should feel comfortable and very confident of progressing from.
Perhaps that has been the problem in the past, however? Being too confident? Too sure they will advance? Maybe, maybe not. Whatever the problem has been, it has made for some disappointing showings at certain international tournaments for Les Bleus. Trouble within the French camp has always seemed to be never too far away also, and that has often turned out to be destructive from the inside.
It is that tendency to implode which led Didier Deschamps to make team morale a defining aspect of his criteria in his squad selection — team morale is of utmost importance this time. Bearing that in mind, the first game of the tournament would seem to be the most important for France. Starting the tournament with a win and developing a positive, happy camp as early as possible.
France open up their tournament against Honduras on June 15, but that will not be the key game for them in Group E. France really should win that game, you cannot take anything for granted, but a win must be on the cards for the French, surely. And because of that, the game against Switzerland will be the most vital game for France in the group stage.
Switzerland should be the closest group rivals for France, although the climate in Brazil may have a profound effect on that ultimately. As things stand now, though, Switzerland were the No. 1 seed in the group and would seem to be France’s biggest rivals. It is important for Les Bleus to win that game and that should be a win which puts them in command of the group.
Who knows, if France can secure three wins from three games, they may just enter the knockout stages in a positive mindset and give themselves the best possible chance of success. Anything is ultimately possible when it comes to France, for better or worse.
But one thing that must happen for France to be in pole position to finish in first place in the group, is a win over Switzerland, in what will be the most important game of the group stage for France.