France coach Didier Deschamps has warned against underestimating Switzerland ahead of their Euro 2020 last-16 tie on Monday.
The world champions are firm favourites to progress in Bucharest, but Deschamps – who must overcome a number of injury problems – argued that Vladimir Petkovic’s side are better than they are being given credit for.
“It’s not a potential banana skin,” he said. “It’s a Round of 16 match with a quarter-final place at stake. We were favourites before the competition but both me and my players are aware of the quality of this Swiss team.
“They have strengths and are capable of good things. They’re not 13th in the FIFA rankings for nothing. That’s down to the team and their coach, Petkovic, who has done very good work in his time in charge.”
Deschamps lost two left-backs – Lucas Hernandez and Lucas Digne – to injury as their final group game against Portugal finished in a 2-2 draw.
The coach indicated that Digne along with Marcus Thuram and Jules Kounde would miss Monday’s match through injury.
Though Hernandez was not among the players training on Sunday evening, Deschamps indicated that he expected the Bayern Munich man to be fit.
Even if Hernandez is available, there has been speculation that Deschamps could shift to a 3-5-2 formation – with Benjamin Pavard and Adrien Rabiot candidates to be used as wing-backs.
“Before every game, I analyse,” Deschamps said. “I speak to the players, get their ideas. The aim is to give them the best opportunity.
“But it is me who decides, I make the decisions.”
Switzerland progressed to the knock-out stages as one of the best third-placed teams in the groups.
Their last result was their best, a 3-1 win over Turkey in which Liverpool’s Xherdan Shaqiri scored twice.
“We were happy to win and reach the Round of 16,” Petkovic said.
“We had to wait a few days to find out our opponents, but we’re happy to play against the world champions.
“Despite all the external talk – everyone is speaking as if we don’t have a chance – we believe in ourselves and we need to show what we can do on the pitch. We’re here and we want to keep living our dream.”
Switzerland have exited the last two major tournaments at this stage, beaten by Poland on penalties in Euro 2016 before losing 1-0 to Sweden in the World Cup three years ago.
“For sure the game against Poland at Euro 2016 we deserved to progress, and on penalties you need to be lucky,” Petkovic added.
“We learnt from that game, and also from the defeat against Sweden in the 2018 World Cup.
“With tough moments you gain experience. We want to take the next step forward, against France.”