Football

France a force on the rise

Deschamps says his side share a similar mindset with the France team that won the World Cup

GROUP E

SWITZERLAND 2

(Blerim Dzemaili 81, Granit Xhaka 87)

FRANCE 5

(Olivier Giroud 17, Blaise Matuidi 18, Mathieu Valbuena 40, Karim Benzema 67, 
Moussa Sissoko 73)

France coach Didier Deschamps said his side are 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 yesterday morning (Singapore time).

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 at present, 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 driver's seat in the match.

"To be able to reach half-time with a 3-0 score 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."

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.

The excellent Karim Benzema and Moussa Sissoko grabbed another two before Swiss substitute Blerim Dzemaili and Granit Xhaka grabbed a couple of consolation goals.

"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."

France lost central defender Mamadou Sakho after 66 minutes to a thigh injury and Deschamps said his fitness would be assessed today.

SPECIAL PRAISE

Meanwhile, Deschamps reserved special praise for Benzema, who was at the heart of yesterday's fine attacking display.

"Benzema confirmed that he is in great shape, he is very well physically, he is a very joyful person and a top-notch player," Deschamps said of the 26-year-old frontman, who missed a penalty in the first half.

"He just continues doing what he has been doing with us since the beginning, and his work also at (Spanish club side)Real Madrid. It is important to have players such as him."

Benzema's versatility will also be useful in an impressive looking French side. Against Honduras he started up front, but was equally influential in a wide left position against Switzerland, with Giroud leading the line.

The missed penalty aside, Benzema almost took his tally in Brazil to four goals in two games, but a beautiful last-minute strike was ruled out because the referee had blown his final whistle.

"I didn't hear the whistle and so I shot and I scored the goal but I think what is most important is the victory and the way we obtained it," Benzema said, after picking up the Man-of-the-Match award.

A downbeat Swiss coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, who called the crushing defeat a "bleak day" for his side, also paid tribute to Benzema's performance.

"I think Benzema is top class, he makes the most of the gaps, he really fights for the team, he scores and he proves this in all of the games," he said.

Benzema, who has now scored nine goals in his last eight internationals, attributed his fine form at the World Cup to the absence of emotion in the way France play.

The Real star felt that all of his team-mates have been clicking well and their togetherness has been key to their positive results.

"I think we all had a good game," he said.

"We are all doing well. We continued what we did against Honduras. We played as a team, we played together and there are no emotions.

"It's good to have a team like that. Personally, I'm doing well. I'm profiting a lot. That is two goals I've had disallowed now, but it doesn't matter."

- Wire Services.


i’m very disappointed by our defeat. the French were ice cold in taking their chances. they have excellent individual players. they are one of the teams who can go very far in this tournament, they are superior to the likes of England or italy.

- Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld

World Cup