France head coach Didier Deschamps is set to bring Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann back to the starting XI as Les Bleus prepare to face a strong Switzerland side in their last match of Group A.
France have been far from convincing so far in this tournament, but they have managed to qualify for the round of 16 stage after late goals in each of their first two games.
Deschamps was thought to have benched star players Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann in France’s 2-0 win over Albania because of their indifferent performances in France’s first match of the tournament against Romania. Deschamps, who also played in midfield for Juventus, explained that he had benched Pogba because he wanted more physical work in midfield.
“With that system I thought we needed two real scrappers in the middle of the park. Paul has different attributes,” Deschamps was quoted as saying by the Evening Standard.
However, with Griezmann, the France manager insisted that it was a case of managing a tired player. Deschamps believes that the Atletico Madrid forward needs to be rested as he has had a long season in which he helped his side reach the final of the Champions League.
“As for Griezmann, I am managing him. He is doing well but he had a busy season and we have three games in nine days. He made the difference even though I know he would have preferred to have started the game,” said Deschamps.
France might have already qualified for the round of 16 with one game still to go, but they are yet to confirm their place as the winners of Group A. From a French perspective, a draw against Switzerland will be good enough to take them through as the group winners.
Meanwhile, Switzerland find themselves in a position where they can finish as group toppers if they can defeat France.
What makes wining the group so important is that the Group A winners are set to have an easier fixture in the round of 16. The winners of Group A have to play the third placed teams of Groups C, D or E; as it stands, those teams are Northern Ireland, the Czech Republic and Sweden respectively.
However the fixture gets much tougher for the Group A runner-up, who will have to play the runner-up of Group C. This means that if both France and Germany finish second in their respective groups, we could see a Franco-Prussian face-off in the round of 16 itself.