France vs. Switzerland: Lineups, TV, streams, odds, prediction for Euro 2021 Round of 16 match
We’re into the knockout rounds and reigning World Cup champion France is still the favorite to win Euro 2021.
Outside of a surprising draw against Hungary in the sapping heat of Budapest, the French seemed to cruise rather effortlessly to the top spot of the toughest group at the Euros. They left the impression they could flip the switch on their attacking buzzsaw whenever they wanted.
And to think that the French finished top of that group without needing Kylian Mbappe to score a goal or assist in the three matches. Of course, it helps to have Karim Benzema back and they’ll be glad he got his goals out of the way (two vs. Portugal). And an inspired Paul Pogba is quietly earning team MVP recognition, putting on passing clinics from his midfield position.
Watch: France vs. Switzerland streaming on fuboTV (free 7-day trial)
Switzerland, on the other hand, is operating on a different plane of soccer existence. The “Nati” have already achieved the minimum goal of getting out of the group stage. The ultimate goal for the Swiss would be winning their first knockout match at a major competition since the 1938 World Cup.
But no one back home is expecting them to beat the French. To do so would constitute the biggest upset at these Euros, even bigger than the Czech Republic knocking out the Dutch on Sunday.
Hungary will be the model for the Swiss. The Hungarians set up similarly with a 5-man backline and they made defending the priority against Pogba & Co., surprising France with a sudden burst forward for their only goal.
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The problem is that Switzerland couldn’t contain or really hurt the only elite team it has played thus far. In the 3-0 group stage loss to Italy, the gaps in the Swiss defense were regularly exposed by the Italians with balls over the top or runs into space. Swiss defenders lost track of runners and were easily pulled out of position. The match video might have had French attackers salivating at the prospects.
Given how the odds are stacked against them and how their defense will invariably give up scoring chances, there’s an argument to be made that Switzerland head coach Vladimir Petkovic should have his players go toe-to-toe against France: come out on the attack and attempt to fluster France with a high press no one will see coming.
If the Swiss front three of Breel Embolo, Haris Seferovic and Xherdan Shaqiri (below) are on their game, they could create problems for a French defense that can be beaten.
The fullback positions — Lucas Hernandez or Lucas Digne on the left, and Benjamin Pavard on the right — are widely considered the weak point for the French, and center back Raphael Varane has also come under criticism for the occasional defensive lapse.
But even with all that, Les Bleus have only conceded a single goal from the run of play in three matches, and that came against Hungary. They also have N’Golo Kante patrolling the space in front of the back line, the best security blanket that exists in global soccer.
This version of France under Didier Deschamps has a reputation for not exerting itself until it’s absolutely necessary. It should stay true to form against Switzerland and expend the minimum required to ensure a comfortable victory.
In this vein, it might prove an opportunity for French star Mbappe (just 0.9 expected goals so far per FBref), who has only stood out for disallowed goals, to use the occasion to get his name on the scoresheet with a goal or assist. There are interesting odds available on that front.
It would constitute a mild surprise in this match if Switzerland could also get on the board and make things interesting for a stretch. There’s some value on “both teams to score” if you’re convinced there’s a Swiss goal in this one.
Prediction: France 2, Switzerland 1
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
Article Found At – Sporting News