Salvador has played host to some of the tournament’s most exciting games, so a lot was expected before the meeting of these European neighbors and it didn’t disappoint particularly if you were of a French disposition. France dominated the early proceedings with Benzema shooting narrowly wide on five minutes. After a brief lull, France took the lead through a fantastic header from Olivier Giroud on seventeen minutes. Manufacturing the corner himself, Giroud rose superbly to head past the Swiss keeper Benaglio who could only help the header into his net. Worse was to come for the Swiss as the French extended their lead less than a minute later through Blaise Matuidi. Capitalizing on a defensive error from Behrami, Matuidi pounced and placed the ball inside Benaglio’s near post. Benaglio’s culpability in the goal compounded one of the primary themes of the tournament thus far, the low standard of goalkeeping.
From here the Swiss were left in a conundrum, seek an immediate response or accept their faith and put a halt to the French attacking waves. They opted to attack the French and had a goal ruled out for offside on twenty-seven minutes. However, the Swiss period of domination lasted a mere four minutes, and was halted abruptly when Djourou brought down Benzema with a clumsy foul inside the penalty area, replays suggested the referee made the right call. Taking the kick himself, Benzema’s powerful penalty was fantastically saved by Benaglio and with a gaping net Cabaye somehow managed to blast the rebound off the bar.
The game settled down for a period, but on forty minutes a lightning counter attack by the French saw Mathieu Valbuena tap in from a Giroud cross for a third French goal of the first half. Dominating possession and filled with pace and power the French continued to dictate play until the half time whistle.
The Swiss replaced the lamentable Behrami at the beginning of the second half, having already replaced the injured Steve Von Bergen with Senderos during the opening ten minutes. However, those expecting a revival would be disappointed as the first fifteen minutes of the second half was scrappy from both sides. On sixty-four minutes Switzerland missed a glorious chance through Mehmedi, which summed up their evening. The French called Giroud ashore for talented Pogba and within five minutes he provided a sumptuous assist for Benzema on sixty-six minutes. The stadium erupted with cries of Allez Les Bleus as the French continued to dominate a poor Swiss side. The only concern for the French was an injury to their centre-half Sakho who was replaced shortly before their fourth goal. However, worse was to come for the Swiss as Sissoko tapped in on seventy-two minutes to make it five. The Swiss were simply shocking, with both centre halves particularly woeful and astonishing occurrence considering there impressive qualifying record for the tournament.
As games go, this was perhaps as one-sided an encounter as one is likely to see during the entire tournament, with the Swiss simply woeful in defense. A consolation goal arrived for the Swiss on eighty minutes courtesy of a Dzemaili free kick. While another goal arrived for the Swiss on eighty-seven minutes courtesy of a neat finish from the industrious Xhaka. Yet, for anyone not watching the game the gulf between the sides was greater than the final score line suggested.
France are certainly a team that possess the pace, power and crucially quality to challenge for the trophy at the business end of the tournament, However, for Switzerland their next game is crucial, win and they are through which on tonight’s performance seems highly unlikely.