By Mark Gleeson
SALVADOR Brazil (Reuters) - Veteran coach Ottmar Hitzfeld predicted a match for the footballing connoisseur to savor when his Switzerland team take on neighbors France at the World Cup on Friday despite past evidence to the contrary.
“France are a neighbor and so it’s a derby for us and therefore important to deliver a good performance,” he said of the clash at the Fonte Nova arena between two teams who last Sunday made winning starts in Group E.
“But if we are to stand a chance against France we have to exceed our own limits.
“France have displayed great performances in their last games, they’ve played with a lot of self confidence. They seem to have found themselves. They are very flexible and can switch their game around. They have been working like a machine.
“That means for us, we’ll have to impose our philosophy on the game – aggressive attacking, changing defense into attack – and then I think we’ll have a chance.”
The last three head-to-head clashes have ended in draws and yielded a paltry two goals in the process.
Hitzfeld continued at Thursday’s pre-match press conference to laud the qualities of his Group E opponents, prompting a reporter to ask whether he and his French counterpart Didier Deschamps were playing a hand of poker.
“No, I guess both coaches have a lot of respect for the opposing team. Both teams have earned that respect.”
The Swiss grabbed a stoppage time 2-1 triumph over Ecuador in their opening game in Brasilia that has come as a major morale boost and given the squad added energy.
“We pushed forward, putting our defense at risk, but had the belief we could win. This liberated energy I hope to see tomorrow as well.
“I think we’ll be better in this match, more settled and controlled,” Hitzfeld predicted.
(Editing by Justin Palmer)