Switzerland will be gunning for revenge as they take on Euro 2016 hosts France at the Stade Pierre Mauroy on Sunday.
The last time La Nati met Les Bleus was during the 2014 World Cup. And it was a day Swiss fans will not remember too fondly as they were thrashed 5-2. The overall record between France and Switzerland stands as such: 16 wins for France, 12 for Switzerland, and nine draws.
France, of course, are already into the round of 16 after winning their first two games. Curiously enough, the last time they were in this vein of form, they went on to win the Euro – in 1984 and 2000. So, if one believes in patterns, that means that Euro title number three is on the way for Didier Deschamps and his men.
Well, in theory at least. There are plenty of games to go, and France themselves haven’t kicked into a higher gear yet. Against Albania, they left it late to grab a win. The same goes for their game against Romania. And the player to seal both wins? Not Antoine Griezmann. Not Paul Pogba. No, rather, West Ham’s Dimitri Payet, who was largely unknown until this season.
He may end up starting on Sunday as he has proved to be clutch in key moments. Meanwhile, his more heralded colleagues Griezmann and Pogba will be looking to step it up on Sunday. Both the Atletico Madrid and Juventus man did not start against Albania, but they will likely regain their spots as France looks to make it three wins in three.
As for Vladimir Petkovic, he, too, could be making some changes. Fans may see young starlet Breel Embolo feature from the start in lieu of the misfiring and disappointing Haris Seferovic. At the very least, Switzerland will conclude their group stage campaign as runners-up. At the very best, however, they could pip France to the top spot. Given that Group A’s winner will take on the third best side from Groups C, D, or E, that could mean a match-up versus debutants Northern Ireland.
Group A’s runners-up, on the other hand will face the runners-up from Group C. That could be Poland, or even – albeit shockingly – Germany if the Poles beat the Ukrainians and they somehow can’t beat Northern Ireland. Permutations aside, Switzerland are in a good position to clear the group stages for the first time. Will they manage to do it as winners, whilst getting revenge on France? Or will they end up falling short?