Friday, June 20, 2014

France v Switzerland: key match for Group E and DD with some surprises

France and Switzerland will face off later today in Arena Fonte Nova. This game will most likely determine who finish atop the group and who might be facing a nervy final day. There has been a lot said that both sides would fancy a draw since it would almost surely guarantee both go through to the knock out stage. I think that on the contrary both sides will be looking for a full three points. Neither team wants to assume anything about their last games and neither team wants to finish second. Why? Since the runner up of Group E faces the first place team of Group F...which should be Argentina. Want to avoid La Albiceleste in the first match of knock out!

Heading into the match, there is already some interesting news from the French camp. Deschamps has apparently decided to make some changes to his line up that dominated a weak Honduras side.

  • Giroud in, Griezmann out. I am surprised by this move. Not that the Arsenal striker does not deserve a start based on how he was playing in the warm up matches. However I am surprised from a tactical stand point. Assuming that DD rolls out a 4-3-3 with Benzema - Giroud - Valbuena across the top. This could be a very powerful offensive formation - see my previous post about the flexibility in attack this formation gives. The issue is on defense. And this might be even more exposed against the Swiss. The Swiss right flank has some real threats. Shaqiri the right winger and
    You want to back track? Or should I?
    Lichsteiner the right back. The Bayern Munich winger is a real attacking threat, he does like to drift to the middle and cut inside. That will drag Evra into that space. Leaving the wide channel open for the marauding right back from Juventus, Lichsteiner. Neither Benzema nor Giroud is a true winger in the sense that they take the defensive responsibilities of that role to heart. I had more faith that Griezmann, a natural left winger, would ensure he assumed is responsibilities to track back and most importantly check any runs from the Swiss right back. With two natural center forwards on the pitch, DD will have to ensure one of his midfield trios cheats left to cover for his left wing not back tracking. This might fall to the likes of Cabaye, he will need to be aware of the space that gets greated when Shaqiri pulls Evra to the middle of the park and space opens up on that side.
  • No Pogba? The other rumor is that DD will start Sissoko in place of the Juventus midfielder. That is a real surprise to me. I thought if anyone in the midfield that started against Honduras would sit it would be Cabaye due to the knock he picked up. One argument is that Pogba was targeted for some extra attention against Honduras, could have gotten red carded and did pick up a yellow card. If that is the reason I am a little disappointing. Pogba plays his club football at one of the world's largest clubs in a very physical league - Italy. He is targeted because he is so good and influential on play. I am not arguing that we should use the World Cup to prepare Pogba for such treatment, but come on...he is a professional. Trust him that he can contain his emotions. If we would sit players because of their temperament then how did the likes of Zidane, Keane, Cantona etc ever get to play? Hopefully this is simply a rumor. Pogba's talents are too good to leave on the bench for fear he gets a yellow card...
Clearly DD is looking to carry the game to the Swiss if he has both Giroud and Benzema on the pitch together. Deschamps is taking a chance. If the Swiss are getting numbers up and taking advantage of the French left it could be a very long day for Les Bleus. If having Benzema out on the left forces Lichsteiner to be more conservative in his runs then maybe DD has taken the initiative. This is something to watch early on.

Also look how the French midfield operates if they have Sissoko rather than Pogba. The Newcastle midfielder provides some different options for France but he isn't like Pogba - a box to box midfielder that can control the midfield.

This is a big match for Les Bleus. There is much euphoria over their 3-0 win over Honduras. Which might be fools' gold - Honduras were down a player all second half, something to keep in mind when looking at the final statistics for the game. France will be facing a nation that is ranked in the top ten, if you take any value in those rankings....I don't take too much value from them! But the Swiss have some real talent in their ranks - the aforementioned Shaqiri and Lichsteiner, as well as the likes of Xhaka, Drmic and Inler. They are also managed by a wily managing veteran - Hitzfeld.

I look for a cautious match by European neighbors. France go up 1-0 mid second half from a Giroud strike, but conceded late. France 1 -  Switzerland 1.

Allez les Bleus!


Philip said...

Wow did not see that coming and benzema got robbed a goal. I will be bummed if he misses golden boot by one. Owell they still need some improvements, when pogba came on they dominated again

GFC said...

I didn't either! Benzema could be on five goals. Should have been credited with hat trick against Honduras and had the French sixth goal had the game been a few seconds longer!