Two FIFA 2014 World Cup teams that had little to no impact on the tournament in 2010 are looking to do just the opposite this year in Brazil. In South Africa, France finished last in their group going 0-1-2. Switzerland along the way finished 1-1-1, but that still was not enough for them to earn a berth in the knockout stages.
This time around, France looks like they are back to their old dominant selves on the world stage. In 2010 under then manager Raymond Domenech, there was discontent in the French camp and not many players felt a desire to play for the man who was supposed to be leading and guiding them. Instead, his presence seemed to create more tension than anything else, as physical altercations between teammates were documented by the media after striker Nicolas Anelka was dismissed from the squad for directing expletives towards Domenech.
That was then, and this is now. The French had a decisive 3-0 victory in their opening match of the tournament over Honduras. New manager Didier Deschamps is at the helm, and so far seems to be getting the most out of his superstar, Karim Benzema of Real Madrid. Benzema had two goals in the game against Honduras, after struggling mightily in the UEFA Euro 2012 tournament and being withheld from the national squad altogether for the 2010 World Cup.
Switzerland beat Ecuador in a 2-1 decision that favored the Swiss. Switzerland peppered 12 shots on goal against Ecuador and won the possession battle by a margin of 56 to 44 percent. They also won eight corners compared to Ecuador’s six, scoring their first goal off of one. The Swiss were strong and calculated in their counter attacks as well, ultimately scoring the game winner on one. In added time, Swiss midfielder Valon Behrami became the architect. He tackled an Ecuadorian off the ball in his own box and made a spirited run, dribbling the ball to midfield. Mere moments later, the Swiss were in celebration after Haris Seferovic tapped home the winner.
France will face Switzerland at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador. The winner will most likely be the top seed to come out of Group E, while the loser will be left with some question marks. If it’s a draw, Ecuador should still see an opening and could be out for blood. France still must overcome the absence of star midfielder Franck Ribéry in their starting eleven for all future matches. The Swiss will no doubt be looking to exploit this.
This should be a well-paced, sharply executed match with possession being spread around near equal across the pitch. Man of the Match honors went to Xherdan Shaqiri in Switzerland’s tilt against Ecuador. The better the energized FC Bayern Munich product plays, the higher chance Switzerland has for a desirable outcome. In the end, France’s skill and desire to put 2010’s debacle behind them will shine brighter in Salvador.
Prediction: Switzerland 1 – 2 France