France opened the World Cup with an impressive victory over a less-than-stellar Honduras team. If anything, it provided proof that France's troubled past was behind it and they can win without star midfielder Franck Ribery.
Then Friday, against a solid Switzerland squad, France opened the scoring with two goals in rapid succession. And they didn't stop scoring.
France went up 5-0 on Switzerland before the Swiss even threatened the net, asserting themselves on both sides of the ball.
Goals were coming fast and furious for the French side, and Switzerland had no answer. The scoring opened with two goals that should have been stopped but weren't. Switzerland couldn't put together any sort of attack, and their defense continued to wither under the French pressure.
All is not lost for the Swiss, however. While France has all but assured a spot in the Round of 16, Switzerland, Honduras, and Ecuador will be battling for the second berth in the knockout stage. Switzerland is sitting at three points, while Ecuador and Honduras, both losers in their first game, will play Friday night.
So as bad as things were for France Friday, a win over a lowly Honduras squad next week and all is forgotten.
FINAL: France 5 (Giroud 17', Matuidi 18', Valbuena 40', Benzema 67', Sissoko 73') - Switzerland 2 (Dzemaili 81', Xhaka 87')
93' -- Benzema puts one in the back of the net as time expires...like, a buzzer beater, I guess, but it doesn't count.
87' -- Well why not. Granit Xhaka finishes with a wonderful volley in the box. The scoring extravaganza continues!
86' -- Shaqiri tries from distance and almost sneaks one in.
81' -- Switzerland just pulled off some sort of sorcery, as Blerim Dzemaili's free kick somehow sees its way through the French wall and keeper for a goal. A GOAL SWITZERLAND SCORED.
77' -- France continues a relentless attack. Shots on shots on shots.
73' -- Well why not. A good find by Benzema and Moussa Sissoko knocks it home. This is kind of insane.
72' -- Patrice Evra nearly joins the party, but his shot goes high and wide.
67' -- Welp. Terrific goal for Benzema, who beats the keeper with a clever strike right on the doorstep. This is ugly, but that wasn't.
65' -- Terrific chance for the Swiss but Admir Mehmedi is pressed by French keeper Hugo Lloris and his shot sails well over the crossbar.
63' -- Decent chances for Switzerland, but still no great shots at goal. It has been a total struggle today.
60' -- France just teeing off at this point. A deflected Benzema shot goes out for a corner.
58' -- Good strike from Switzerland's Blerim Dzemaili, though it screams just north of the crossbar. Switzerland essentially playing for respectability at this point.
52' -- Switzerland earns a free kick just outside the box, but it's cleared for a corner. Shaqiri sends in a pretty weak corner that easily defended.
47' -- And the Swiss comeback (???) is underway. They get a decent early chance, but it's spoiled.
Halftime: The referee's whistle comes mercifully for the Swiss side, who have been completely out-classed. There doesn't appear to be much hope in the second half for Switzerland. France looks too strong, too talented, and, most importantly, too far ahead.
43' -- France very nearly made it 4-0. This is a bloodbath.
40' -- Forget it. France counters and Giroud with a perfect cross to Valbuena for the goal. Switzerland gave the French waaaaaay to much field to work with on the counter.
40' -- Shaqiri gets in behind the French defense but can't manage a shot. Wins a corner, but it's wasted.
33' -- APPLAUSE. Benaglio stuffs Benzema's PK and the rebound rings the post. Okay, Switzerland.
31' -- Well that positivity has been erased. Benzema gets dropped in the box earning a penalty kick for France. Have to wonder why Switzerland's Djourou made the challenge where he did.
30' -- Okay, Switzerland is making this interesting. Shaqiri goes just wide on a rebound. Agonizingly close.
29' -- Giroud settles a cross but his volley sails well high.
27' -- Switzerland goal wiped away due to offsides. Like five of them were offsides. But at least they saw one go in? Maybe? Does that help?
25' -- Benzema has a try for France. Not a lot going well for the Swiss. They'll need to turn things around quickly.
18' -- Um, okay. France scored again. A give-away at midfield leads to another goal, this one from Matuidi. Frankly, neither should have beaten the keeper. But alas, 2-0 France. Two goals just about a minute apart. Yikes.
17' -- GOAL. Giroud's header off the corner from the outside of the box finds the net.
16' -- Decent ground cross from Giroud seeking Benzema cleared for a France corner.
14' -- Some clever passing by France yields...a Swiss counter-attack. Nothin' doin' on either end.
13' -- Action pretty reserved thus far. Both teams concerned with keeping possession -- not a lot of attack. So not very exciting. Hopefully that changes.
8' -- Nasty injury to Switzerland's Steve Von Bergen, who appears to be bleeding from...the eye? He got kicked in the face -- we know that much. He's off, Philippe Senderos on to replace him.
1' -- And we're underway. Last three times these two met it ended in a draw. Something to keep in mind. Let's just hope there's more excitement than Costa Rica-Italy.
2:45 p.m. ET: It's a battle for supremacy in Group E. Both France and Switzerland are fresh off opening wins, and a win by either side would all but officially push them through to the second round.
One lineup change of note: France has removed Paul Pogba from the starting 11, replacing him with midfielder Moussa Sissoko.
Here are the full lineups for both squads.
Switzerland: Diego Benaglio; Ricardo Rodríguez, Steve von Bergen, Johan Djourou, Stephan Lichtsteiner; Gokhan Inler, Valon Behrami; Admir Mehmedi, Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri; Haris Seferovic
France: Hugo Lloris; Patrice Evra, Mamadou Sakho, Raphaël Varane, Mathieu Debuchy; Blaise Matuidi, Yohan Cabaye, Moussa Sissoko; Karim Benzema, Olivier Giroud, Mathieu Valbuena
France vs. Switzerland (Group E) | Kickoff: 6/20, 3 p.m. ET | Stadium: Fonte Nova
Match Preview: These two sides were expected to be the class of Group E, and they've both looked the part early on.
France is always, shall we say, difficult to predict. After the runner-up finish in '06 they had a disastrous time at the 2010 Cup, but they look to be somewhat more stable under Didier Deschamps this go round.
Karim Benzema has filled in well thus far for the injured French institution Franck Ribery, with the former scoring twice (almost thrice!) in the opener. Paul Pogba should also provide an added boost again, and those two will certainly look to cause problems at the heart of the Swiss defense.
Switzerland had trouble with Ecuador, needing a late goal to seal the win. Much is expected of winger Xherdan Shaqiri, who looked solid in the opener and can be the key to dismantling a stingy French defense.
As it is, though, both sides look primed to move through to the knockout stage, barring an unforeseen event in their respective final group game.