Sunday, 19 June 2016

Switzerland vs France Euro 2016 Football Match Preview And Prediction - June 20, 2016


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France have left it late to win both games at Euro 2016, while Switzerland will be feeling confident of progression having claimed four points so far.

Brian Homewood (Switzerland) and Jonathan Johnson (France) look ahead to Sunday's clash.

What's at stake here?

Brian Homewood: This game is pretty close to a dead rubber and will be one of the first victims of format where 16 of the 24 teams go through. France have already qualified, without looking very impressive, and Switzerland are almost certain to go through, while also not looking very impressive.

One point will ensure the Swiss a top-two finish but even if they lose, they should have done enough to make sure they are one of the four best third-placed teams. For the Swiss, the main aim will be to avoid a repeat of the 5-2 mauling they suffered against the French two years ago at the World Cup.

Jonathan Johnson: With six points from a possible six in Group A, France are playing to maintain their 100 perfect start on home soil and to ensure that they advance to the latter stages in top spot. The hosts are yet to truly convince, so they will be keen to put in their strongest performance of the tournament so far at Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

With the pressure now off after progress to the knockout rounds was confirmed with the fortuitous win over Albania, Didier Deschamps' men should finally be able to cut loose and produce their best football against an unconvincing Switzerland side.

If Les Bleus are unable to raise their game, then a Swiss outfit particularly adept at scoring from set pieces -- the obvious French defensive weakness at this point -- could upset the two-time winners in Lille.

Key battle

BH: Xherdan Shaqiri vs. Patrice Evra

Shaqiri has yet to shine at this tournament, so there is a real incentive for him to do well on Sunday. There have been tantalising glimpses of what he can produce when he has a run at players but his final pass has been lacking and he has been wasteful with free kicks and corners. Shaqiri's favourite position is on the right of midfield where he can cut inside and either take a pot-shot or thread a pass through the backline, and Patrice Evra -- assuming he is not rested -- will have the job of stopping him.

JJ: Dimitri Payet vs. Stephan Lichtsteiner/midfield

Payet is France's star performer so far this summer and if Vladimir Petkovic's Switzerland are to get anything from Sunday's match, they will need to find a way of silencing the West Ham United star. Deschamps moved away from his favoured 4-3-3 formation against Albania and tried a 4-2-3-1 shape, which featured Payet in his preferred No. 10 role behind the striker. The result was the same; another influential performance capped by a wonderful late goal.

Depending on which system Deschamps opts for, Payet will either be out wide on the left or in that same playmaker berth in the middle of the three attacking midfielders. Playing on the left would pit Payet against Swiss captain Stephan Lichtsteiner of Juventus, while being deployed centrally would make the France No. 8 the responsibility of Valon Behrami and Granit Xhaka dropping back from midfield. Whichever of those two tussles unfolds -- seeing both over the course of the 90 minutes is not an impossibility -- that will be the key.

Star man

BH: Granit Xhaka

The midfielder has been voted man of the match in each of Switzerland's first two games. He has stood out with the accuracy of his passing and his strength in physical clashes, both in the air and on the ground. His more demanding critics may feel that too many of those passes have been backwards or sideways but he is Switzerland's most technically gifted player by a long way and keeps the midfield ticking over.

JJ: Paul Pogba

After coming off the bench against Albania at half-time, Pogba still struggled to truly impress as his disappointing start to UEFA Euro 2016 continued. Although he and his teammates were not aided by a shocking Stade Velodrome pitch on Wednesday, the Juventus star still appeared to be trying too hard to live up to the pre-tournament hype and was visibly frustrated as he tried to prove the French press wrong as well.

That said, Pogba did still help the hosts to overcome a stubborn Albanian side and he is likely to return to Deschamps' starting XI after being given some rest. With the pressure now off France after two wins from two, the weight of expectation on the 23-year-old's shoulders should also have eased a little.

This could be the match where Pogba truly announces his arrival at this summer's event. If he does finally deliver against Switzerland, then he could become more influential from here.

Prediction

BH: A 3-1 win for France. Switzerland's defence has not yet been put under severe pressure yet in this tournament, or indeed during the qualifiers, and this will be the stiffest test they have faced since they played Argentina at the World Cup two years ago.

JJ: 2-1 to France. The hosts will get their third victory from as many matches and Deschamps' men will look better than they did against either Romania or Albania but Switzerland will breach Les Bleus' vulnerable defence.

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