What a game. A contender for game of the tournament so far, as well as the performance of the tournament by France. Patrick Vieira noted that Didier Deschamps left out both Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy but this was for the good of the team, and France are really reaping the benefits of leaving out disruptive influences.
Switzerland started the game shakily and were punished when Olivier Giroud rose highest to thump a header past the Swiss goalkeeper Benaglio. A minute later, Benaglio’s head was in his hands again as he failed to save Matuidi’s shot to make it 2-0. Mathieu Valbuena capped a breathless breakaway goal to put France 3-0 up with Giroud and Varane at the centre of the move.
In the opening 45 minutes Benzema earned and missed a penalty, with Cabaye inexplicably missing the rebound. Switzerland were let off.
The second half quickly followed the fashion of the first with Benzema capitalising on a Senderos mistake to slot the ball past the goal keeper to make it 4-0. A defence consisting of Johan Djourou and Phillipe Senderos looks and feels like an Arsenal Carling Cup back 4 circa 2010, and it is no surprise that they didn’t win that cup in the past 9 years with these two clowns as back up defenders.
Benzema was involved in France’s fifth goal, playing in Sissoko with a perfectly weighted pass, who struck to further condemn Switzerland. The score line really didn’t flatter France. They were in scintillating form, and Switzerland were awful.
It was only after the Swiss were 5-0 down that they showed some intent. Dzemaili pulled a goal back with a 30 yard free-kick, but the French wall should have done much better. This was before Xhaka added another goal, taking down Inler’s chipped pass with a superb controlled volley.
Benzema was denied a great late goal as the full time whistle had gone before he curled the ball around the goalkeeper with a first time effort from the edge of the box, sparking premature celebrations.
Benzema and Giroud were immense together. France really look like the real deal this tournament and they will be hard to beat. It’s a shame that England didn’t look at France’s example of playing with a balanced team instead of the “on-form” players who may not necessarily complement each other. Nasri would not have fit into this team, and France are now on the brink of qualifying for the last 16, and whoever plays them is up for a tough task.