France vs Switzerland | Monday 28th June 2021, 20:00 | ITV
After the rollercoaster finish to Group F, table-toppers France face one of the best third-places, Switzerland.
The world champions battled hard to make it through the ‘Group of Death’ and remained unbeaten in the process. They stumbled to a win over Germany in their first game, after Mats Hümmels’ own goal, before two draws took them into first place.
Didier Deschamps has a few headaches to deal with regarding team selection. Lucas Digne and Ousmane Dembélé are unlikely to feature again at this tournament. There are doubts over Lucas Hernández, Adrien Rabiot, Thomas Lemar and Marcus Thuram, so a few dilemmas in the French camp.
Switzerland were potentially unlucky only to finish third in the group. They’ve paid a heavy price for failing to see off Wales in their opening game. But they were brushed aside against Italy before Xherdan Shaqiri inspired them to an easy win in their final game.
Vladimir Petković has a fully fit squad to pick from, so he’s got options to choose from to start in the wing-back positions, with Steven Zuber likely to be a key cog after his hat-trick of assists v Turkey.
One important thing for the Swiss is the rest they’ve had since their last game. It’ll have been eight days since they ran out 3-1 winners over Turkey, and that rest could be crucial after all the miles they’ve travelled between Baku, Rome and now Bucharest.
However, this is their usual departure point. Die Nati haven’t reached the quarter-final of a major tournament since they hosted the 1954 World Cup and facing favourites France will likely result in another exit before that stage.
Tournament Stats & Pointers
I’ve compiled a few different stats to compare before finding the best plays. You might find a few of these handy when building your bets.
Expected goals (xG):
Switzerland 5.2xG – bolstered by the 2.31xG v Turkey
#3 Switzerland 47 (15 on target)
#13 France 31 (10 on target)
#1 Switzerland 22
#22 France (7) – only Hungary and Finland took fewer
#4 Switzerland 8
#5 France 7
#6 France & Switzerland (5)
France: 33 v Portugal, 37 v Hungary, 21 v Germany
Switzerland: 35 v Turkey, 24 v Italy, 16 v Wales
On the latter two, Argentine whistler Fernando Rapallini takes charge. His two games during the group stage saw five cards – three in the first half and two in the second. Ukraine v North Macedonia saw 19 free kicks given, while he whistled for 22 in Croatia’s win against Scotland.
If you’re looking at card angles then Joshua Kimmich (RWB) and Endre Botka (RCB) have been the only two players cautioned v France, so that left side where Kylian Mbappé attacks do provide plenty of threat.
The betting angles
I think it’s somewhat difficult to assess Switzerland from their three group games. They were poor against Italy but dominant against Wales and Turkey – yet with the latter failing to inspire, just how good were the Swiss performances?
Similar could be said about France, especially after their first game, which played into their hands. Against Hungary, there didn’t look too much rhythm or tempo to their play, while they were better against Portugal, but that game was all about the penalties – the one awarded to Les Blues was one of the softest we’ll see.
There are two angles I’m playing in this one, although one of them could see you take an alternative approach.
Both to make two tackles each pays EVS and that looks a great price given the way this game could play out with France likely to dominate possession, while the Swiss use Shaqiri and Breel Embolo’s pace on the break.
Taking the numbers off WhoScored, both players average three tackles per game so far. Chelsea’s Kanté has completed nine tackles, broken down into 2, 4 & 3.
While Arsenal’s Xhaka made five against Italy and four v Turkey. Although he failed to record one versus Wales, that was a game where the Swiss had 63% possession, so dominated the ball, which is highly unlikely this time around.
Switzerland could play with a low block to stifle this French attack, something Hungary did quite well, so that should see Xhaka getting stuck in. It’s 11/8 for Xhaka 3+ tackles (Ladbrokes) as a single.
But when (rather than if) France take the lead, Die Nati will have to throw caution to the wind, allowing Kanté to get stuck in – I’m sure he will when the game is fairly tight with the amount of ground he covers.
The Swiss are the fresher of the two sides, so it’ll be interesting to see if they start strongly in the first 10-15 mins to take advantage of some potentially weary French bodies. If they do attack, they’ll look to expose the French full-backs – the only area of potential weakness.
So, Xhaka and Kanté 2+ tackles each at EVS on Ladbrokes looks a solid play to start us off.
In the whole context of the game, this could turn out to be something of a chess match, just like it was when they played out a 0-0 draw at Euro 2016.
Four of the last five meetings have ended in draws – three of those goalless, with the other seeing France run out 5-2 winners during the 2014 World Cup, where Karim Benzema scored and picked up two assists.
Benzema looks in good touch, as does Antoine Griezmann, while Mbappé has done everything but find the net. Paul Pogba looked very good against Portugal, especially that eye of the needle through-ball for Benzema’s second.
I did consider Pogba for an assist, but I’ll simply go with France to win and under 4 goals at 21/20 on Bet365. There’s too much quality in this Les Blues side for this Switzerland side, so while it might be patient build-up, a low-scoring game looks to be the way to go.
Given four of the five goals Die Nati have conceded have been in the second half, you could consider France’s highest-scoring half to be after the break – it’s 13/10 on Bet365, that’s one of the alternative angles.
As was the theory of France to win by a single goal. This is more to do with the stubborn nature of the Swiss side, who very rarely get blown away – only Italy have done that in the past couple of years.
In qualifying for this tournament, they fell to a 1-0 defeat to Denmark. During the Nations League, they lost 2-1 to Ukraine and Croatia, as well as that score to Belgium in a friendly, while also succumbing 1-0 in Spain. That’s four of their last five defeats that have only been by a solitary goal.
The game state will play a big part in the margin of victory, especially if the Swiss are chasing a goal as time runs out.
However, France have had to settle for a few one-goal wins of late. If you take the FIFA world rankings into account, Les Blues haven’t had it all their way against sides in the top 20 – and the Swiss are ranked 13th.
Recently, Les Blues have managed to pick up one-goal wins over Sweden (18th), Croatia (14th), Portugal (5th), Germany (12th) and Bosnia (55th), so this Swiss side might be able to frustrate for large periods.
For me, France to win by one goal is 47/20 with Unibet must be considered in what should be a tight game in the warm conditions of Bucharest. But I’ll operate a sense of caution and stick with these two plays.