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'France haven't won back-to-back World Cup games in the group stage since 19998 so the omens are good' - CCFC World Cup Review

21 June 2014

Check out the latest installment of our daily World Cup 2014 review as France swept aside Switzerland

In another hugely entertaining affair at this summer’s tournament, France destroyed Switzerland 5-2 in Group E. Programme writer/journalist Matthew Joyce looks at how Les Blues sent out a message to the rest of the world.

The most highly anticipated game in Group E didn’t disappoint, and with a huge goal-fest for the neutrals. Switzerland qualified for the World Cup unbeaten and having only conceded six goals in qualifying, so I expected a tight game, with Ottmar Hitzfield’s side being really compact and well drilled. How wrong I was!

The first goal they let Olivier Giroud – renowned for his aerial prowess – have a free leap to the ball. The second goal killed the game, not just because of how quickly it came after the first but the manner in which it was scored. Two mistakes, one from Valron Behrami and the goalkeeper Diego Benaglio killed the Swiss confidence and the game as a result.

While Karim Benzema will take the plaudits and rightfully so, the midfield trio of Moussa Sissoko, Johan Cabaye and Blaise Matuidi have a perfect blend of physical strength and passing ability. That’s even without Paul Pogba!

The third goal was an incredible goal on the counter attack, and it was really pleasing to see more of the same after the break. It’s easy when you’re 3-0 up to switch off and play out the game, but even after the fourth and fifth goals, France were so professional and continued to play with the same verve and swagger. It could easily have been six, seven or eight, and made a mockery of the FIFA World Rankings – Switzerland are sixth!

France were shook by injury to key man Franck Ribery just before the tournament, and Didier Deschamps was criticised for leaving out Samir Nasri. But the manager has seemingly got a great atmosphere in the camp, and plenty of strength in every position. They haven’t won back-to-back games in the group stage since 1998, so the omens are good! I wanted to see Les Blues face a sterner test than their previous game against Honduras, and while they were so comfortable, they made a real statement of intent. Benzema and Valbuena are in excellent form and a constant menace, with those two leading the charge, teams will fear France in the knock-out stages. I’d describe France in one word after the opening two games: clinical.

Man of the match: Karim Benzema – a penalty miss aside, Benzema has been in lethal form in France’s opening two matches, and he not only a predator in the box, but a lethally intelligent spearhead, making Matuidi and Sissoko’s goals on top of providing one of his own.

Performance rating: France 9 Switzerland 4

Prospects: France should top the group and will be confident of a last 16 clash – more than likely against Bosnia. Switzerland face a do or die clash with Honduras but they should still join the French into the knockout rounds.

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