Belgium were instilled as the dark horses ahead of international football’s premier competition in Brazil, backed so heavily in recent weeks, that tag now seems inappropriate. France have been free-scoring form in the last month, most notably putting eight past Jamaica in preparation for Brazil. The pace in which France break on the counter, even without injured absentee Franck Ribery, is something to behold. Qualification to the World Cup knock out stages is now guaranteed, are they the real dark horses for the tournament? However, with respect to Honduras and Switzerland, these teams are far from perennial world-beaters. As fluid and adventurous as the French forward line is, at times they look a tad exposed at the back, which better side would punish. But, with commanding midfielders in Blaise Matuidi, Paul Pogba, Mousa Sissoko in the side, the likes of Mathieu Valbuena, Olivier Giroud, Yohann Cabaye and Karim Benzema are able to run free and put any side that’s put in front of them, to the sword.
As good as France were, Switzerland were equally woeful. The injury to Steve von Bergen, who reportedly suffered a broken cheekbone and ruptured eye socket, forced manager Ottmar Hitzfeld’s hand early doors. Former Arsenal and Fulham centre back Philippe Senderos came on as his replacement. The Swiss teams balance suffered in the ensuing moments, encapsulated by a couple of minutes of sublime forward play and lacklustre defending. First, Olivier Giroud headed France in front, poor Swiss marking allowed him to take the chance unopposed. 12 seconds after the restart and Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio was picking the ball out of his net once more, Blaise Matuidi romping forward and dispatching the ball with pace to make it 2-0. In truth, the goalkeeper really should have been alert to the danger far quicker to get down to his right hand post and parry away the shot. Reeling from the swift capitulation, the Swiss conceded a penalty just after the half hour mark, however, goalkeeper Benaglio gained some measure of redemption for his earlier error by saving Benzema’s spotkick, Cabaye striking the woodwork from the rebound. Switzerland to there credit probed for a way back into the game, and found some consolation late on but the French ran rampant, Valbuena before half time, then further goals from Benzema and Sissoko in the 2nd half confirmed a rout of the error-ridden Swiss.
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