It came after a spectacular comeback that saw Switzerland rally 3-1 in the 80th minute to force overtime. Mario Gavranovic scored an equalizer in the 90th minute after Haris Seferovic pulled one out late. Two goals from Karim Benzema and Paul Pogba appeared to have led France to the next round, as France struggled 1-0 at halftime.
Pogba curled up in a magnificent third goal for France, which seemed to have sealed the victory, before Seferovic scored his second header in the 82nd minute. Gavranovic then waltzed through the French defense before shooting into the bottom corner to score a dramatic equalizer and force overtime. Sommer stopped Pavard and substitute Olivier Giroud as Switzerland qualified for the penalty shootout.
Here are five things we learned …
Euros deliver the day of an astonishing drama
The superb clash between France and Switzerland in the round of 16 was perhaps the best football game we have seen since… tea time. Incredibly, the tie between France and Switzerland matched, if not eclipsed, the scenes we saw in today’s previous game, as Spain beat Croatia 5-3 in overtime.
Rarely have we seen such an unpredictable day of football at a major tournament – let alone such drama back-to-back games, at any level. 14 goals were scored and two sensational comebacks were organized by uninformed teams, it doesn’t get better than that.
We’re only at the knockout stage, but these delayed Euros could be the best tournament we’ve seen in recent memory. We have already seen more goals than in 2016, as well as a lot more drama. Indeed, these two matches will go down in the history of the tournament, just like on June 28, 2021.
Switzerland summons a remarkable spirit
After some of their performances earlier in the tournament, few would have predicted that Switzerland would take tournament favorites France into overtime, let alone trailing 3-1 in the 80th minute. But just like Croatia earlier today, the Swiss made a noticeable comeback to set up the second dramatic meeting of the day.
It was all the more surprising as Switzerland were at times tame and directionless during the group stages, especially in their abject 3-0 loss to Italy, but they were exceptional here. They led France in the first half and, with the exception of a 30-minute stint in the second where France’s attack took hold, were largely the better team. They might even have been out of sight if Rodriguez had converted his spot fast.
Conversely, their head could have easily fallen after Lloris’ stop and France’s three goals, but thanks to the excellent Seferovic and Gavranovic’s impact, they regained their composure. Captain Granit Xhaka was also remarkable, as were Manuel Akanji and Nico Elvedi.
Like the Czech Republic and Austria this weekend, Switzerland was thought to be in the round of 16 ahead of tonight’s game. But, inspired by the determined performances of these teams against the Netherlands and Italy respectively, Switzerland tore up the scenario and showed that the spirit of the underdog is alive during these euros.
France devastated in 30 minutes …
It may have only been fleeting, but when France’s star-studded frontline chose their moment to present themselves, it was by far the exceptional 30-minute attacking spell of the tournament. France were watching the barrel of a shock Euro elimination when Rodriguez stepped in. Lloris made a vital stop to his right and it brought France to life. Less than five minutes later, Benzema, Mbappe and Griezmann combined to put Didier Deschamps’ side 2-1 ahead – before Pogba added a delicious third.
It was an astonishing turnaround, and one that didn’t seem to come. France’s attack did not live up to our expectations during a flat first half for the Blues in Bucharest. Mbappe struggled to bond with Benzema again, despite both players frequently occupying promising positions, while Mbappe’s struggles to be flagged offside also continued. In general, France passed the ball far too slowly and was not threatening on set pieces.
France needed a wake-up call and when Lloris turned down Rodriguez he arrived. Benzema’s equalizer was exquisite, with a deft touch to the back of her heel, creating a cool, drenched finish in front of Sommer. His second was a tap-in, but it came with a magical heel kick from Mbappe and smart play from Griezmann, while Pogba’s curling effort was mind-blowing.
France suddenly became world champions again – but it didn’t last. Switzerland scored two quick goals to force extra time, and Benzema and Griezmann were substituted. From there, in extra time, France struggled as the match went on penalties.
… but Mbappe’s struggles continue
It was indicative of Mbappe’s tournament that when the golden odds in overtime arrived he chose to finish with his left foot. Played on goal by Pogba in the second overtime period, the pass looked perfect for Mbappe to loop the ball in the far corner with his right foot, but instead he inflated his lines.
The PSG striker has yet to score in these Euros and it was perhaps the first time that we saw his confidence in front of goal crumble. During the group stages, Mbappe had several similar occasions where he opened his body and attempted to place the ball in the far corner, but neither of them found the net. In some situations the goalkeeper telegraphed the shot and made a comfortable save, while in others the 22-year-old missed the mark.
Things turned from bad to worse for the star as he missed the essential kick and France withdrew from the tournament.
The change in France’s formation turns against him
Could France have avoided this situation if they had adopted the right approach from the start of the match? This is the question that is sure to trouble Deschamps after this one. Injuries to Lucas Hernandez and Lucas Digne left Deschamps without his two left-backs and, as expected, the manager changed his system in order to compromise. Rather than aligning a member of their team out of position, France lined up in 3-4-3 with regular right-back Benjamin Pavard and midfielder Adrian Rabiot positioned on the wings.
Throughout the first half, the whole team’s rhythm seemed disrupted and the center of the French defense was exposed by the switch. Clement Lenglet, called back to the squad and playing in the middle of the last three for his first minutes since May 16, was bullied for the opening goal as Seferovic shoved the defender back before giving a down header into the net 10 meters away. , with Switzerland taking a surprise lead.
Seferovic continued to give Lenglet a hard time, while Breel Embolo aimed for Raphael Varane in the left channel, an area that the excellent Steven Zuber was also able to exploit. Indeed, Switzerland are used to playing in 3-4-3 and seemed much more comfortable in the system than their opponents, and the fact that Deschamps came down to four towards the end of the first half was revealing. failure of change.