Shades of 1998: goal-happy France are a rising force
Les Bleus virtually assured of qualification after a demolition job on Swiss
France coach Didier Deschamps said his side were showing the grit and determination he and his teammates had when they swept to World Cup victory in 1998 after they demolished Switzerland 5-2 on Friday
France are now virtually assured of qualification from group E after a superb attacking display at the Fonte Nova arena gave them a 3-0 first-half lead in a rampant performance that left them with maximum points from two games.
“It is the same thing that we saw in 1998, while we cannot compare each changing room, I have a very focused group, they have a mindset that they want to maintain, even those who play less, there is a force that is rising,” Deschamps said.
“[While] this is not a guarantee of success, in addition to our qualities this mindset is very important.”
Deschamps was keen to laud a quick-fire first-half display that put France firmly in the driving seat in the match.
“To be able to reach half-time with a 3-0 score really helps a lot, at 2-0 the other team can still turn things around, but 3-0 is an important difference,” he said.
“It was a great day for us, 75 minutes 5-0. The Swiss team were very good but we really put a lot of pressure in the midfield and I think our attacks were very quick and that was not at all good for the Swiss.”
WATCH: Olivier Giroud gives France the lead
Goals within 66 seconds from Olivier Giroud and Blaise Matuidi put France 2-0 up inside the opening 20 minutes, with Mathieu Valbuena adding a third before the break.
“When you score five goals, it’s ecstasy,” Valbuena said.
The excellent Karim Benzema and Moussa Sissoko grabbed another two before Swiss substitute Blerim Dzemaili and Granit Xhaka grabbed a couple of consolation goals.
WATCH: Blaise Matuidi makes it 2-0
With Giroud’s strength and Benzema’s direct running too much for the Swiss, the scoreline could have been more.
“There is an enormous satisfaction with the result,” Deschamps said. “We are competitive, we were able to show this today, it was a good test. My impression now is very positive. In five days time we have a new battle."
WATCH: Mathieu Valbuena makes it 3-0
France lost central defender Mamadou Sakho after 66 minutes to a thigh injury and Deschamps said his fitness would be assessed on Saturday.
Until Friday, Switzerland lost just once in 18 matches over the past two years and reached No. 6 in the Fifa rankings. It all unravelled against a team they hadn’t beaten since 1992.
“It was a bleak day for us,” Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said. “We were not able to show our true potential.
WATCH: It's 4-0 as Karim Benzema scores
Hitzfeld said an early exit by his central defender Steve von Bergen after a rough tackle by Giroud, which left the Swiss player with bloodied head, contributed to the defeat.
“Philippe Sanderos had to come straight from the bench without a proper warm-up,” Hitzfeld said. “Of course, this is not an excuse, but it hampered our defensive line.”
Still, Hitzfeld said he was optimistic that Switzerland could qualify by beating Honduras in the last group match. France will take on Ecuador in the other remaining group match.
“Everything is in our hands,” Hitzfeld said. “We still have a good chance of qualifying.”
Reuters, Associated Press