Published On: Sun, Jun 22nd, 2014

Five-Star France, Smash Sorry Switzerland

Football: Breaking Tackle, Pads On, Laces Out: World Cup

France 5-2 Switzerland

Match Report

By: Okari Stephen Wambunya

This was the third World Cup game to be played at the Arena Fonte Nova, in Salvador. The previous two matches finished as Spain 1-5 Holland and Germany 4-0 Portugal. You would notice there was a trend of thrashings at this stadium.

At the start of the match, the first chance at goal was Karim Benzema who went close to curling into the far corner. The Real Madrid forward cut in onto his right foot, but his shot from 20 yards went just wide. Both Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena were coming inside frequently, which left space in behind for full-backs Mathieu Debuchy and Patrice Evra to make overlapping and marauding runs.

There was an early change for Switzerland as centre half Von Bergen was forced off with an eye injury. On came Philippe Senderos in his place, to play alongside Johan Djourou.

In the 17th minute, France broke the deadlock. A thumping header from Olivier Giroud, on his return to the starting line-up gave his team a 1-0 lead.

It was an out swinging corner from Valbuena and the Arsenal forward ghosted past the Swiss zonal marking system, to rise brilliantly and score. Benaglio got a touch, but couldn’t stop it from going in. There was another goal in the next minute, from Blaise Matudi. Behrami gave the ball away to Benzema and the 26 year-old passed to the onrushing Matuidi, who took his left-foot strike from an acute angle first-time and placed it in, at Benaglio’s near post. France was 2 goals to the good.

Switzerland thought they were back in it soon after, but Granit Xhaka was offside as the ball came back into the six-yard box from a free-kick. Benzema had tested Benaglio moments before. Then, Xherdan Shaqiri saw his shot parried just wide by Hugo Lloris, only for the referee to give a goal kick.

After that, Benzema won a penalty at the other end, as he drew the foul from centre-half Djourou. Benaglio dived to his right and made an outstanding low save to deny the Frenchman, but the rebound from Cabaye, was volleyed from six yards straight against the crossbar.

On 40 minutes, France gave an example of counter attacking football at its best. Giroud was let loose down the left by a through ball from Varane, and his low cross met Valbuena at the far post, who tapped it in. France was coasting at the break, 3-0 ahead.

After the interval, there was one change for the Swiss. Dzemaili came on for Behrami.

Giroud was substituted, to a rapturous cheer from the French faithful. He scored one and set up another. On came Paul Pogba.

 

The second replacement for France was one Premiership centre-half on for another as Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny replaced Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakho.

In the 67th minute a defensive mistake from Senderos, invited Benzema to score his third goal of the tournament. Pogba played a beautiful ball into the area towards the Real Madrid forward, but Senderos totally misjudged his clearance and a thankful Benzema put it past Benaglio.

On 72 minutes, Sissoko rounded of the rout. It was an excellent early finish into the far corner. The score line was 5-0 to France.

In the 81st minute, Dzemaili unleashed a free-kick low and hard past a poorly positioned French wall and into the bottom corner. This was a consolation goal for Switzerland. On 87 minutes, this time Xhaka was onside and he took an effort first-time, over his shoulder, to finish past Lloris. Meanwhile, Cabaye got a yellow card that would rule him out of the final game against Ecuador, at the Maracana.

This was a scintillating display of attacking football from France. They advanced forward, as a cohesive and coherent component. This was reminiscent of a team that thinks telepathically. They were fluid and controlled possession and although conceded two goals towards the end, they were never really troubled defensively.

France is top of Group E and looks likely to progress to the next stage. Switzerland has a massive mountain to climb now, taller than anything in the Alps. Also, Switzerland had more holes in their defence tonight than a slice of Swiss cheese. The Swiss must win their final game against Honduras to qualify.

 

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Five-Star France, Smash Sorry Switzerland
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