France vs Switzerland – Context
To think that the arguable favourites for the European Championship title would win just one of their 3 group matches is a surprise, even though both Portugal and Germany were paired with France in their group.
However, more so that it was Hungary who took 2 points off the World champions and left the final match with Portugal with the possibility of a 3rd place finish in the group. A 2-2 draw with Portugal though with Germany securing the same scoreline with Hungary meant Didier Deschamps side did indeed finish first.
Meanwhile, Switzerland were unable to beat a Welsh side which just got battered 4-0 by Denmark. Again the quality in Granit Xhaka and his colleagues is focused on the defensive third. Haris Seferovic, Breel Embolo and Xherdan Shaqiri have simply not the ability to allow Switzerland to hit the top sides hard enough.
Despite a number of goals against Turkey, their opponents inefficiencies were seen as the likely cause for the result compared to Switzerland’s quality.
Yet, Vladimir Petković’s side always seem to have an air of unpredictability about them meaning France will still need to take the match very seriously should they want to impress. Without some key defensive players it should be pointed out.
France vs Switzerland – Head-to-head
Some may be surprised to see that Switzerland’s record holds up well against the multiple world champions however. France have won 16 of their meetings but the Swiss have 12 victories to their name also. 10 draws make up the rest of their clashes.
However, recent history does not fall in the Swiss’ favour. Without a victory over France since 1992 in a 2-1 friendly win, France have not lost in the subsequent 7 meetings. Although, France have only managed to win 3 of those.
The last time the pair met was in Euro 2016. A 0-0 draw allowed both sides to progress, France winning the group.
Many familiar faces will be in the line-ups on Monday with Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Hugo Lloris and many of the subs present for the finalists from that year. 6 of the Swiss starting line-up are set to face off once again with Les Bleus, maybe the experience of the resolute display from that day can take the game the whole distance.
France vs Switzerland – Key battles
France have major defensive issues ahead of the match. Both left-backs, Lucas Digne and Lucas Hernandez are doubts, the former in particular. There is speculation that Deschamps may choose to match the Swiss back 3 system with Clement Lenglet coming in for his first start. He, alongside Raphael Varane and Presnel Kimpembe, will need to quell the Swiss counter-attacks and compete with Seferovic and Embolo.
Adrien Rabiot and Benjamin Pavard being used as wing-backs.
The back-line with Ricardo Rodriguez and Manuel Akanji coped well with Gareth Bale against Wales but facing Kylian Mbappe is a different prospect entirely.
Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante will have a significant quality edge of Xhaka and Freuler in the middle and their passing to Griezmann could be what unlocks the Switzerland defence.
France vs Switzerland – Subplots
Much of the focus on this fixture will lie upon France striker Karim Benzema.
The Real Madrid man has returned to the French squad after many years exiled from the group. In his first two matches against Germany and Hungary the former Lyon man looked a little out of place.
However, in the game against Portugal, where he faced his former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, he sparked into life scoring a penalty to set off his goalscoring exploits at the tournament followed by a expert low driven finish past Rui Patricio.
Should France have a good chance of winning the tournament, then much of it will be down to whether or not Benzema can continue his goal scoring run.
For Switzerland they have been unable to progress past the last 16 at the tournament for the last 67 years. The odds are against them but this tournament has shown that anything is possible and the most unlikely of results can become a reality.
France vs Switzerland – Predicted line-ups
France: Lloris; Varane, Lenglet, Kimpembe; Pavard, Pogba, Kanté, Griezmann, Rabiot; Mbappé, Benzema
Switzerland: Sommer; Elvedi, Akanji, Rodríguez; Widmer, Freuler, Xhaka, Zuber; Shaqiri; Embolo, Seferović