If Switzerland are to make any impact at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, they will most likely have to top their group ahead of favourites France.
Ottmar Hitzfeld’s team qualified for the tournament at a canter, and the prospects of reaching the knockout stages look good, with the Swiss pitted against Les Bleus as well as Ecuador and Honduras in the opening phase of the competition.
With Switzerland representing the biggest challenge to Didier Deschamps’ team, it could all come down to the key clash between the sides – the second fixture of the three each will play in Group E.
The Swiss have some room for optimism though, having drawn with France in each of their previous three competitive meetings and while the draw is priced at 9/4, given their near-perfect record in qualifying under Hitzfeld, now could be the time to back the underdogs for victory.
After all, Switzerland have something of a pedigree for upsets at the World Cup, having beaten holders Spain in the group stage of the 2010 edition of the competition and can be backed at 3/1 to win this encounter.
And after winning seven and drawing three of their 10 qualification fixtures, they are certainly in good shape to overcome a France team that continues to perform as football’s equivalent of Jekyll and Hyde – losing miserably 2-0 away to Ukraine only to then turn on the style with a 3-0 win in the return leg to advance to book their place in Brazil.
Defeat to France could also spell disaster for Switzerland, who may still qualify in second place, but would most likely face Argentina, with the South Americans favourites to top a weak group.
The 13/8 on the Swiss departing the tournament at the second round stage could therefore prove a shrewd bet, but should La Nati top the standings ahead of France, then a quarter final place may beckon, with Hitzfeld’s side a 9/2 shout to exit in the last eight.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date
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