France v Switzerland: Key battles - Can Ex-Geordie hurt the Swiss?

A Newcastle United man, Liverpool target, Manchester United star and Real Madrid striker all feature.

Gokhan Inler v Yohan Cabaye 

Gokhan Inler has the ability to be a defensive thinking midfielder and a forward thinking one - it is rare that a midfielder has the ability to do both. Inler does just that and is a midfielder who could get into most national teams around the world. Luckily for them, Switzerland have the luxury of picking him and as such allow him to play his best football alongside former West Ham United player Valon Behrami. 

For France, Yohan Cabaye will be looking to play his normal creative play in the midfield. The Frenchman has a superb array of passing and has the ability to find anyone of this front three, anywhere on the pitch, whether being marked or not. He played behind Pogba and Matuidi in their opening match, to give himself the space to play the passes.

Gokhan Inler will no doubt know all about Cabaye's threat and will need to stop him from playing. Whether it be the unfashionable method of man-marking him out of the game, or just to close him down when he has the ball. Switzerland will need to stop Cabaye if they are to beat France, and it is likely to be Inler who is assigned that role.   

Xherdan Shaqiri v Patrice Evra

Shaqiri has struggled at club level this season with Bayern Munich. He is behind Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Mario Gotze in the pecking order their, and has had little game time in the lead up to this tournament. Yet he is still a real threat, and Switzerland have a lot of hope in him in performing to a high level and surprising a few people this tournament, none more so than Bayern coach Pep Guardiola. He struggled in his first match against Ecuador to make a real impact, and will need to improve this time around against Patrice Evra.

Evra, like Shaqiri, hasn't had the best season at club level with Manchester United. He also was the captain during 2010 when he famously led the player revolution in South Africa following Nicolas Anelka's expulsion from the squad. His 2014 campaign in Brazil started better, as he helped keep a poor Honduras out. There is no doubt that Switzerland, who are ranked as high as 6th in the World rankings, above France, will pose far more of an attacking threat. 

That is most likely to come from Shaqiri, and he will look to cut in onto his left foot from the Swiss right wing, it will be up to Evra to stop him. Should be a good battle and could be key if Switzerland attack is to get the better of France's defence.

Fabian Schar v Karim Benzema

Benzema could have had a hat-trick in the 3-0 win, if it wasn't for FIFA awarding their third as an own goal by the Honduras goalkeeper. Despite that, he will be full of confidence and expecting himself to get on the scoresheet again against Switzerland. It seems as though he has taken over the mantel as being France's main man after Franck Ribery's shoulder injury, and is something he is flourishing in. Arsenal striker Giroud will have to settle for a place on the bench again on Friday, as Benzema's fine form looks set to continue.

FC Basel defender Fabian Schar didn't play against Ecuador, but he is expected to replace Johann Djourou in the heart of the back four. Former Arsenal defender Djourou was at fault as Valencia scored Ecuador's goal, and as a result is likely to be dropped for this match. If true, it will be quite a challenge for Schar to come straight in to the defence and stop a forward like Benzema who is full of goals and confidence at the moment. Yet he will need to fit straight in to stop Benzema, otherwise the Frenchman could get on top of him and continue his rich vein of form in a France shirt. 

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