• Saturday, August 30, 2014

Switzerland-France Preview: On-form Benzema looking to fire Les Bleus into knockout stages

Didier Deschamps. Photo: Getty Images
Didier Deschamps. Photo: Getty Images

France boss Didier Deschamps is likely to name an unchanged starting line-up for Friday’s clash with Switzerland, but opposite number Ottmar Hitzfeld must decide whether to reward those who made such an impact in the country’s World Cup opener against Ecuador, Mark Doyle writes in goal.com

The Swiss looked set to suffer a shock defeat in Brasilia on Sunday, having fallen behind to Enner Valencia’s first-half header. However, Admir Mehmedi levelled three minutes after being introduced during the interval, while another substitute, Haris Seferovic, swept home the winner with seconds remaining.

Mehmedi came on for Valentin Stocker, who had a desperately ineffective opening 45 minutes, while Granit Xhaka also underwhelmed in behind striker Josip Drmic. However, the early indications are that Mehmedi will again be restricted to the role of impact substitute.

Likewise matchwinner Seferovic, as Hitzfeld looks set to keep faith with Drmic, who was the man in form coming into the tournament and also had a goal incorrectly disallowed during the game in Brasilia.

The Swiss could make one change, though. Johann Djourou was criticised for his performance against Ecuador, primarily for failing to pick up Valencia for the opening goal, and is expected to be replaced by Fabian Schar, who was Switzerland’s top scorer in qualifying (three).

As for France, Deschamps is not expected to tinker with the side that swept Honduras aside in Porto Alegre.

Karim Benzema. Photo: Getty Images
Karim Benzema. Photo: Getty Images

There has been talk in France of Olivier Giroud being drafted into the front three but it would be a major surprise if two-goal hero Karim Benzema is asked to move out to the left-hand side to make room for the Arsenal forward.

Such a tactical tweak would also be harsh on Antoine Griezmann, who did a fine job filling the void left by the injured Franck Ribery.

Published: 12:00 am Friday, June 20, 2014

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