World Champions France take on Switzerland in their round of 16 clash at National Arena on 26th of this month. France made it to the knockouts courtesy of their top spot in the group of death that had Portugal and Germany. Meanwhile, Switzerland were fortunate to progress as the lucky losers after finishing third in their Group-A.
Les Bleus have left Hungary and headed to Romania to prepare for Monday's Round of 16 match against Switzerland 👊#FiersdetreBleus pic.twitter.com/4v2o5EfjeK
— French Team ⭐⭐ (@FrenchTeam) June 25, 2021
France are yet to fully fire at the Euros. For all their firepower, they won only one game in the group stage due to Didier Deschamps’ pragmatic approach. Goals have been a rare commodity and their defence looked shaky at times. They needed an own goal from Mats Hummels to beat Germany and a scrappy Griezmann equalizer to salvage a draw against Hungary. A Karim Benzema brace in the final game is a welcome sign for them. The French would look to change gears in the knockout and go on to complete their European dominance.
Switzerland started their campaign with an unlucky draw against Wales. The Alps nation were dominant in the game but failed to get all three points. After being comprehensively beaten by Italy in their second game, they trounced an underwhelming Turkey to finish with four points. A nervy wait came to an end as other results in their favor meant they qualified as one of the four best third-placed teams.
This game promises to be a high-quality affair. An explosive Swiss side looks to upset the favorites France. We at FootTheBall compiled France and Switzerland and their best-combined XI.
GOALKEEPER – YANN SOMMER
The Borrusia Monchengladbach keeper was in top form as he kept the Swiss in the competition. He was an undoubted starter for the side and played all three games in goal. Sommer made a brilliant stop from Kieffer Moore in their opener. He was also a reason why they walked away with a point from that game. Sommer was helpless against Italy as they scored three beautiful goals.
🔝 WHAT. A. SAVE!
🇨🇭 Yann Sommer 🧤 #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/MkfLkcv2Z8
— UEFA Nations League (@EURO2024) June 12, 2021
He recovered from that setback to produce another top display in goal against Turkey. The Turks resorted to shooting from outside the box and Sommer needed to be at his flexible best to thwart them. He might be in for a busy night against France as the world champions have unlimited firepower in their arsenal.
RIGHT-BACK – BENJAMIN PAVARD
Bayern Munich’s Benjamin Pavard is a solid option at right-back. He is Defensively sound and always lends a helping hand going forward. He has a keen eye for goal as well, and you can ask Argentina about that. Who could ever forget his wonderful volley against them at the World Cup in Russia?
Alles Gute, @BenPavard28 🇫🇷🥳
Wir wünschen einen tollen 25. Geburtstag.
Dieses Tor schauen wir uns immer wieder gerne an… 😍 pic.twitter.com/Rs0OlMmAQE
— FIFA Fussball-WM 🏆 (@fifaworldcup_de) March 28, 2021
He started their opener against Germany and went up against his colleagues from Bayern Munich. Pavard helped them record a well-earned clean sheet. Although he was benched in their final game, considering his replacement Jules Kounde’s struggles, we can expect Pavard to slot right back in.
CENTRE-BACK – NICO ELVEDI
Switzerland play a tight three-man defence and often holds a high line with that. Their centre-backs need to be alert for the entire duration of the game. Elvedi had a better campaign personally with Gladbach and was ready to help his Swiss side.
Though the Swiss conceded five goals in three games, it is hard to pinpoint any one of the defenders as their weak link. Especially when Elvedi has been the brightest of them all. The 24-year old who plays as the right centre-back needs to be at his best to stop a raging France attack.
CENTRE-BACK – RAPHAEL VARANE
It feels like Varane has been with the French national team since forever. Having made his debut as a 20-year-old he helped them lift the World Cup in 2018. In the prime of his career at 28 now, he’d like to win the European Championships as well to boost his legacy.
Un bon début ! 🇫🇷 @equipedefrance pic.twitter.com/2f8aFXWYBs
— Raphaël Varane (@raphaelvarane) June 16, 2021
The Real Madrid star started all three games alongside Presnel Kimpembe at the back. The duo were composed in the first game against Germany and registered a clean sheet. Another sublime performance was seen in the game against Hungary. Though they conceded two penalties against Portugal, France has no reason to worry as Varane is at his best.
LEFT-BACK – STEVEN ZUBER
The left wing-back has started only one game for Switzerland. To be included in this eleven imagine how good that display could’ve been. After failing to pose a threat from out wide, Ricardo Rodriguez was relegated to centre-back. Zuber was brought into the side against Turkey.
🔝 Steven Zuber's hat-trick of assists in #SUI 3-1 #TUR sees him soar to the top of the assists leaderboard at #EURO2020
😳 He only registered 3⃣ assists in 2⃣0⃣ Bundesliga appearances last season… pic.twitter.com/rR9wVooFOL
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) June 20, 2021
The Frankfurt defender was brilliant against them. He was strong at the back and provided his best output while going forward. Zuber supplied all three assists for the Rossocrociati. Another display of similar quality is definitely needed against France.
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD – GRANIT XHAKA
The Switzerland captain impressed once again with his national team. After a mixed campaign with Arsenal where he was deployed at left-back for periods, he returned for the Euros. Xhaka sits at the base of the midfield and dictates the play from there.
His passing was exquisite as always and Xhaka showed his work ethic off the ball as well. He was crucial in stopping many attacks and kickstarting his team’s own attacks. His midfield battle with N’Golo Kante would define the round of 16 clash.
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD – PAUL POGBA
A man with infinite flair and swagger. A mixed figure amongst Manchester United fans, Pogba becomes a different proposition when he dons the French kit. He played a key role in their triumph at the World Cup in Russia three years ago and the initial games at the Euros showed a glimpse of repeating the same.
🇫🇷 Paul Pogba. World class.#EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/V6BDtiyZ2M
— UEFA Nations League (@EURO2024) June 23, 2021
Pogba partners Kante in a defensive pivot in the middle of the park. Making use of Kante’s expert defensive cover he makes adventurous runs on and off the ball. Pogba’s vision and passing are world-class and was made evident from his assist to Benzema against Portugal. Pogba possesses a threat with his long-range shooting and came close to scoring against Portugal.
ATTACKING MIDFIELD – XHERDAN SHAQIRI
The forgotten Liverpool winger is dazzling for the Swiss at the Euros. Shaqiri never fails to turn up for the Swiss at major tournaments. He plays in number 10 role just behind their strikers and takes the onus of chance creation and set-piece deliveries.
7 Goals – best Swiss scorer at final tournaments. Proud of this achievement. Hopefully more to come! 💪🏼🇨🇭❤️ #XS23 #hoppschwiiz @nati_sfv_asf pic.twitter.com/vxTqQLFKYP
— Xherdan Shaqiri (@XS_11official) June 24, 2021
Shaqiri set up Breel Embolo from a corner kick to open their account at the Euros. He had a calm game against Italy. However, in the final game against Turkey, he was back to his usual best. Shaqiri scored his trademark long ranger but this time with his weaker right foot. With that goal, he became the first player to score in four major tournaments in a row for Switzerland. He also finished a quick counter to double his tally. Shaqiri must be the main goal threat for Switzerland against France.
ATTACKING MIDFIELD – ANTOINE GRIEZMANN
The French prince had quite a turnaround in his form since the turn of the year. After taking a lot of time to adjust to Barcelona he started to deliver on a regular basis. Even when he misfiring for the Catalonians he was a key member of France. A vintage Griezy is back now and looks fired up for the knockouts.
⏪ Antoine Griezmann #OTD at EURO 2016 🤙
🇫🇷 Will he score in France's Round of 16 clash 🆚 Switzerland?@AntoGriezmann | @equipedefrance | #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/4nt7wqvQY3
— UEFA Nations League (@EURO2024) June 26, 2021
He usually plays as an advanced attacking midfielder for France. He drops infield and drags defenders with him. Griezmann showed good linkup play with the returning Benzema and Mbappe. He scored their equalizer against Hungary and is hungry for more goals.
ATTACKING MIDFIELD – KYLIAN MBAPPE
The French superstar announced himself grandly at the 2018 World Cup. Mbappe’s goals in the knockouts and the final were important in their title run-in. A matured head now with developed all-round gameplay Mbappe looks the deal. He was in scoring touch for PSG but was unable to win the league as Lille emerged winners on the final day.
The 22-year-old came close to scoring in the tournament but found no success. He scored a sublime effort against Germany only for it to be ruled out for offside. Even an assist of his was chalked off in the same game. In the second game against Hungary, he was a menace and supplied Griezmann with his goal. Mbappe is offering much more than a direct goal threat as his late run into the box won a penalty in the game against Portugal.
STRIKER – KARIM BENZEMA
The 33-year-old striker is aging like fine wine. After Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit, he single-handedly carried Real Madrid’s attack. Benzema’s linkup play and passing were otherworldly in the past two seasons. His finishing was fearsome and ranged from simple tap-ins to long-range screamers. His form was too hard to ignore and Deschamps recalled him to the national side.
🇫🇷 Karim Benzema rewarded after his double for France 🥇@Heineken | #EUROSOTM | #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/tB3RqqGj0u
— UEFA Nations League (@EURO2024) June 23, 2021
In their first game against Germany, Benzema looked out of place as the chemistry was missing between the other forwards and himself. He grew into it the game slowly and even scored a goal that was ruled out correctly. Benzema notched up a brace against Portugal to kick-start his second spell with the national team. Having missed their glory run in 2018 he’d be determined to lift the Euros now.