Euro 2016 | Sunday 19 June | Stade Pierre-Mauroy | 21:00
France and Switzerland battle it out after picking up maximum points in their opening games. The Swiss shut out Albania thanks to a Fabian Schar header, while France needed a moment of brilliance from Dimitri Payet to see out Romania. It will certainly be a tough game for Switzerland, who will look to breakthrough France who have not conceded in Lille for over 100 years.
*Please note: this article has been written prior to their second group games being played.
To Win Match
The Swiss got off to the perfect start at the Euros when Fabian Schar headed home to give Switzerland the lead in just five minutes. The scoreline remained the same, ensuring Vladimir Petkovic’s side with their first three points on offer. The Swiss were ruthless in attack and solid defensively. The back four of Stephan Lichtsteiner, Schar, Johan Djourou and Ricardo Rodriguez were formidable as a unit. Swiss captain, Lichtsteiner and Rodriguez played a superb supporting role down the flanks, giving the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Admir Mehmedi an extra option out wide.
Arsenal’s new boy, Granit Xhaka, was named Man of the Match against Albania after an outstanding performance in the holding midfield role. If you’re one for statistics, then you will be interested to know that Xhaka completed the most passes (101), most aerial duels (5) and most chances created (3) in Switzerland’s victory over Albania. Not to mention, claiming bragging rights over his older brother Taulant Xhaka, who represents Albania.
Switzerland's record in qualifying was seven wins and three losses in 10 games, with two of those defeats coming against England. Switzerland are yet to make it past the group stage in their history, but could fancy their chances after victory over Albania, with the Swiss yet to play against Romania at the time of writing.
France are in search of their second Euro triumph as hosts, dating back to the time they won it in 1984. Despite being muted out by Romania for most of the game, France showed their quality on the big stage to overcome a nervy start. With their second game yet to be played at the time of writing, France sit level on top of Group A with Switzerland on three points.
And while the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and Olivier Giroud look to steal the limelight for the host nation, they were all overshadowed by the performance of West Ham playmaker Dimitri Payet. What a way to start the Euro! That sublime finish from Payet was one of the most talked about events in recent time. No wonder the West Ham fans chant that “He’s Better Than Zidane.” As class of an act that was, Payet still has a long way to go to be likened to greats like Zinedine Zidane, but who’s to say that a few more heroics like that won’t earn him a place on France’s all-time hall of famers list.
A thunderous left foot strike from Payet and a towering leap from Giroud to head home gave France their first three points. Things are heating up in the tournament, with no match producing over 3.5 goals, which is of course at the time of writing. But France will hope to have a trick up the sleeves of Didier Deschamps. Les Bleus battered Switzerland by five goals to two the last time these sides met in a tournament (2014 World Cup) group stage. A repeat of that scoreline will put a huge smile on Deschamps and the rest of the French camp.
Yes, France have never conceded in Lille for over 100 years, but records are meant to be broken. Deschamps’ men showed signs of weakness in their opening game against Romania, or perhaps it was just opening day nerves kicking in. However, that was enough for me to back Switzerland to get a goal in this tie. France will win and are rightly favourites at 6/10. However, my money is on France to Win + Both Teams To Score, though, at a more valuable 5/2. Yours should be too!