Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld is relishing a World Cup 'derby' against France, but says the Swiss will have to go to the limits to beat their neighbours on Friday. Both teams go into the Group E match in Salvador with wins under their belt after France beat Honduras 3-0 while Switzerland scored a late goal to beat Ecuador 2-1.
Sixth-placed Switzerland are 11 places higher than the French according to FIFA's world rankings, but Hitzfeld expects a tough test against Didier Deschamps' side.
Hitzfeld, who is in his last tournament before he retires after a career which includes Champions League triumphs with Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, was especially impressed by France's 3-0 play-off win in Paris against Ukraine to qualify for the finals last November after losing the first leg 2-0 in Kiev.
"We're in a special position with France being our neighbours and it's a derby, so to speak, but if we are to have a chance, we really have to go beyond our limits," admitted Hitzfeld. "They are a team who have put in great performances and were impressive in their play-off win against Ukraine.
"They put in an explosive performance and played with confidence. We'll have to be aggressive on attack, counter-attack quickly and then we'll have a chance."
We're in a special position with France being our neighbours and it's a derby, so to speak, but if we are to have a chance, we really have to go beyond our limits
The Swiss say that despite Karim Benzema's good form that included two goals against Honduras, they do not have a specific plan to stop him.
"If you worry about him too much, you forget the rest of the players around him," said centre-back Steve von Bergen, who is likely to be up against Benzema. "There is no anti-Karim Benzema plan, he's won the Champions League and is a world-class player, but once the game kicks off, he is just one very good player amongst others."
France demolished the Jamaicans 8-0 in Lille with Benzema, midfielder Blaise Matuidi and Antoine Griezmann all scoring two goals apiece. In contrast, the Swiss needed a late Josip Drmic goal to beat the Jamaicans in Lucerne last month and Hitzfeld is all too aware that France have scored 21 goals in their last six games.
"We beat Jamaica 1-0, while they beat them 8-0, which shows their attacking prowess, so we know what to expect," said Hitzfeld. "It will be an interesting match for connoisseurs of football and I hope we come out of it with the right result."