Full time: Switzerland 0-0 France
Peep peep! After a promising start it developed into a mediocre game, though the substitute Payet almost scored an incredible goal. The result suits both sides: France top the group, and get an easier draw, and Switzerland are through to the knockout stages of the European Championship for the first time. Thanks for your company; goodnight!
90+1 min That could easily have been a penalty for Switzerland. Lang’s deep cross was aimed towards Dzemalli, who was almost disrobed by Sagna as he tried to reach it. The referee either did not see it, or ignored it.
90 min There will be two added minutes.
88 min Payet’s free-kick hits his own man, the crouching Matuidi, and goes wide for a goalkick. I’m not sure whether it was going in or not.
87 min Schar handles just outside the Switzerland area. We’re into late-goal time, and the free-kick is perfectly positioned for Payet: 22 yards out, left of centre...
86 min Switzerland’s final substitution, with Michael Lang replacing Mehmedi.
85 min Xhaka’s shirt has been torn in half again. Imagine how much damage Claudio Gnetile could have done to the fabric of these Swiss shirts.
84 min “Agreed, Power Cube is a great one,” says Mark Turner, “but the tradition of good nicks lives on in Argentina, to the point where players without one feel they haven’t made it. Though they never translate well, “Cosmic Barrel” for Maradona shines brightly in any language.”
83 min Koscielny is booked for clattering Lichtsteiner 35 yards from goal. The ensuing free-kick is cleared by Koscielny and Pogba.
81 min You usually say this about cricket rather than football, but Payet looks like he’s playing on a different pitch. His confidence is stratospheric at the moment.
80 min “Hi Rob,” says Jörg Michner. “Kari Tulinius wondered if there is a better nickname for a contemporary player than “Power Cube” - I think there is: Roma’s Kevin Strootman is called “Er Lavatrice” by his teammates: The Washing Machine. It’s due to his ability to turn even the “dirtiest” (as in bad) passes he receives into “clean” (good) ones.”
79 min Another Swiss substitution, with Gelson Fernandes replacing Shaqiri.
FRANCE HIT THE BAR FOR THE THIRD TIME!
75 min Payet so nearly scores the goal of the tournament! Sissoko charged 70 yards down the right, a magnificent run, before lifting a deliberate, very deep cross to Payet, arriving from out of shot on the left of the box. He was 12 yards out, running at full speed, and opened his body to sidefoot a wonderful right-footed volley that beat Sommer and rattled the underside of the bar!
74 min Haris Seferovic replaces the lively Embolo up front for Switzerland.
74 min “Switzerland,” says Simon McMahon, “are the Mike Atherton to France’s Allan Donald.” With the number of chances, they are more like the Roger Binny to France’s Chris Tavare.
73 min “I do enjoy listening to Danny Murphy as a pundit and commentator,” says Matt Dony. “He’s knowledgeable without being patronising, enthusiastic but not over-excitable, and pretty funny at times. Go on, Rob, we’re all friends here. Was he the Secret Footballer?” No. But I agree, he’s terrific. While punditry has improved beyond recognition, there aren’t many good co-commentators around. Murphy is excellent at both.
71 min France are playing a dangerous game here, sitting on their 0-0 lead. One goal from Switzerland and they could face Germany in the last 16, and will almost certainly face Spain in the last eight if they get that far.
69 min Albania still lead Romania 1-0, and are on course to finish third. Get the latest here.
68 min “Is there a better nickname for a contemporary footballer than “Power Cube”?” asks Kari Tulinius. “It’s inventive and encapsulates Shaqiri as a player. Reading about football history, there are tons of great nicknames, “The Paper Man”, “The Galloping Major”, “Chopper Harris” and “The Poet of the Left Foot”. These have largely disappeared from the modern game, another fine tradition lost to our cynical age.”
There have been a few amusing ones, though, like ‘One Size’ Fitz Hall, Kiki ‘Chris’ Musampa, and, er, that’s it.
65 min Another corner for Switzerland, who have been excellent since they moved Shaqiri to No10 at the break. Shaqiri takes the corner, and whips it straight onto the roof of the net.
63 min Dimitri Payet comes on for France, replacing the slightly disappointing Kingsley Coman. Somebody get a camera on Slaven Bilic.
62 min Sagna plays Sissoko into space on the right of the box ... and he slips over. The pitches are pretty poor in this tournament.
60 min France have stirred after a very sluggish start to the second half. As in 1998, their potential route to the final is so much easier if they avoid defeat in the final group match.
58 min Shaqiri goes flying after a tackle on the edge of the France box, but the referee ignores him and waves play on. He was definitely caught by Cabaye, even if he did exaggerate the fall.
57 min Pogba brilliantly resists a four-pronged challenge to maintain possession and find Griezmann. He plays a one-two with Gignac and then, from 20 yards, lifts a right-footed shot that is pushed over by Sommer. It was a lovely attack, though a pretty comfortable save for Sommer in the end.
54 min Djourou’s poor pass allows Griezmann to break beyond Schar, and the last man Behrami has to get round to make a crucial block tackle. As he does so, the ball bursts and there’s a delay while they wait for a replacement. You don’t see that too often.
53 min Gignac’s firm low shot from 20 yards is comfortably held by Sommer.
51 min Switzerland are technically the home side in this game, and they are playing like it: they have had more of the ball, particularly since the break, and here’s another corner on the left. Rodriguez swings it out and it’s headed clear.
48 min Pogba tries one trick too many on the halfway line and is robbed, with a Swiss corner the eventual result. It’s headed away by Cabaye. Switzerland have started this half superbly.
47 min A fast start from the Swiss. Shaqiri plays a brilliant lofted reverse pass to find Embolo on the right wing, and his dangerous low cross is backheeled away from trouble by Koscielny in the six-yard box.
46 min Peep peep! Switzerland begin the second half.
Some half-time reading
Half time: Switzerland 0-0 France
A half of two halves comes to an end. France need to be careful, because Switzerland have been useful and they are one goal away from winning the group. See you in 10 minutes for the second half.
44 min A fine long pass from Xhaka is miscontrolled by Shaqiri on the right side of the box, allowing Pogba to clear. The game is meandering towards half-time.
43 min I think this might be the best email we have ever received in an MBM, and the worst. “I really hope Germany get knocked out by Switzerland in the first knockout rounds following a heroic rearguard effort, costing the German coach his job,” says Kielan Thompson. “Switzerland’s lauded centre-back partnership could then be asked by a controversy-seeking journo in a press conference about these consequences and Germany’s future prospects, a question fielded with a chuckle by one, who nervously defers the question to the other. The headline could be: ‘Schär: Djourou believe in life after Löw?’ A long shot but I’m hopeful.”
40 min Since I said this was a good game, it’s been rubbish. I sincerely believe this is not a coincidence.
38 min Xhaka needs a new shirt after half of it is ripped off by a French player. That’s the second or third player who has had a ripped shirt in this half. They’ll have the dentist’s chair out next!
37 min The longer this stays level, the more nervous France will get. They really don’t want to finish second in the group, because if they do they will probably play Germany or Poland in the last 16, and then Spain in the quarters.
36 min Yet another corner for France, this time on the left. Griezmann’s outswinger bounces around the box before Xhaka welts it clear.
35 min Coman is sent flying by a combination of Rodriguez and Dzemalli, and implores the referee to do something about it. He settles for a free-kick.
33 min “Ahoy hoy,” says James Crane. “To David Wall’s point - the logic (ahem) behind the decision can be found at this link, but basically the instruction is that it should now always be dark and light. Hence, like tonight, you wont see Blue vs Red. FIFA, of course, are trying to take it one step further and persuade teams to move towards monochrome (e.g. Spain & Germany kits in 2014). ‘FIFA believe lights vs darks help the referee clarify tussles, lunges and tackles...’. Modern football, etc etc
31 min This is a really good game. Dzemalli beats Sagna on the left wing with a clever drag, but his cross is cleared.
29 min A cute backheel from Dzemalli on the right of the box sets Embolo up for a rising shot that hits Koscielny in the chest and goes behind for a corner.
27 min Lichtsteiner breaks forward, loses the ball to Coman and then pulls him back to stop a France break. That would definitely have been a yellow card two months ago. I like this new refereeing leniency, though the worry is that cynical defences will soon start to manipulate it for their evil purposes.
24 min A superb inswinging corner from Griezmann is headed over his own bar by the excellent Schar, who clears the follow-up corner as well. That leads to a third, which is swung deep to Koscielny. He heads it whence it came, and Schar again heads it clear. I think Koscielny’s header was going wide but it was still a good defensive header. A second later, Rami is booked for a high foot on Mehmedi.
23 min Embolo’s directness is giving France a few problems at the back, although he has also messed up breaks with a couple of poor touches.
21 min Mehmedi picks up the ball on the left wing. Rodriguez makes the overlapping run, and Mehmedi uses him by not using him: he comes infield, away from Griezmann, but strikes well over the bar from the edge of the box.
20 min “I have been watching far too many episodes of The Walking Dead recently,” says Ian Copestake, “so it is actually unnerving to see people running at pace.” You had a United season-ticket last season? Honk!
17 min Pogba hits the bar for the second time! He marauded forward from inside the centre circle, and got to within 25 yards before raking a majestic left-footed shot that swooshed away from the motionless Sommer and pinged off the top of the bar. With the Sommer save and the near own-goal at the other end, the score in this could easily be Pogba 3-1 Pogba.
17 min France are pressing strongly. Griezmann’s excellent square pass finds Gignac, 15 yards out, and his first-time shot is very well blocked by Schar.
16 min “I understand that the Swiss are technically at home, and that is why they are in red tonight, but given that there is no clash why aren’t France in blue?” says David Wall. “This seems to have been introduced in recent tournaments, that the ‘away’ side have to play in their change kit regardless of clashes with the ‘home’ side’s colours (with the exception of where the away strip clashes with the home strip, as presumably was the case in the game between England and Russia). Is that a rule introduced by UEFA/FIFA or is it something that national federations choose to do so they can flog more change strips?”
No idea I’m afraid, but I agree, it’s an egregious development to use away kits when there’s no clash.
13 min That’s a brilliant save from Sommer to deny Pogba! Coman mishit a volley inside the box, and Pogba, who had run around the outside of him from centre to left, whistled the loose ball towards the far corner with his left foot. It was going in but Sommer showed superb reflexes to plunge to his left and tip it round.
12 min A lovely effort from Pogba. He was found by Gignac, 25 yards out, and made space before hitting a curler towards the far top corner. Sommer got across but spilled it, and it looped up before hitting the top of the bar.
10 min I’ve seen players clear off the opposition line before, like Tore-Andre Flo for Chelsea, but never to deny an own-goal.
8 min What a bizarre near miss! Embolo has cleared off the line from Pogba - at the French end! A corner from the right was flicked across the box by the head of Schar, who might actually have done better. Pogba, in trying to clear, miskicked it towards his own goal and Embolo, who had fallen over and was on the line, unwittingly cleared. It may not have gone in anyway, as Lloris had scrambled across his line, but it’s hard to be sure either way.
7 min Lichtsteiner galumphs into the box onto Embolo’s overhit pass, and Rami gets across to make an excellent clearance.
6 min It’s been a fairly leisurely start to the game, a reflection of the fact France are already through.
4 min “Doc Sportello’s lifestyle is absolutely not what you would expect of a modern footballer,” says Charles Antaki. “Drugs, paranoia, individualism, occasional infantilism and an abiding failure to deal with authority. Actually…”
3 min Griezmann waves an insouciant pass down the right to Sissoko, whose cross is blocked at the expense of a throw-in. From which, Pogba’s 25-yard shot deflects wide for the first corner of the match. It leads to a very promising Swiss break, four on three, but Dzemalli picks the wrong pass.
2 min “How do members of the bald community change their life?” says Marie Meyer. “Have you seen ‘Breaking Bad’? Grow a goatee, get a pork pie hat.”
Who said this was about me?
1 min Peep peep! France, in white, kick off from right to left. Switzerland are in red.
Time for the national anthems. Patrice Evra, in particular, is belting it out.
“Paul Pogba has obviously fully absorbed a reading suggestion from Joe Allen, whose own transformation of form (for Liverpool anyway) came about on perusing Thomas Pynchon’s novel Inherent Vice, in which Doc Sportello follows his new age, hippy friend’s advice to ‘change your hair, change your life’.”
Did this Sportello character have any thoughts as to how members of the bald community might change their life?
The weight of all those permutations
France will top the group if they get at least a draw. If they achieve that, they will play a third-placed team in the second round rather than the runner-up in Group C (probably Germany or Poland). It would also mean they play the runner-up from Group F in the quarters, rather than the winner of Group D (probably Spain).
Switzerland will definitely qualify if they draw, and will top the group if they win. They should still go through even if they lose, though they would be dependent on various other results, starting with Romania v Albania. Confused? Splendid. All I need are your bank details.
Team news: Payet and Giroud are rested
Switzerland (4-2-3-1) Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schar, Djourou, Rodriguez; Behrami, Xhaka; Shaqiri, Dzemalli, Mehmedi; Embolo.
France (4-3-3) Lloris; Sagna, Rami, Koscielny, Evra; Sissoko, Cabaye, Pogba; Coman, Gignac, Griezmann.
Referee Damir Skomina
Hello. Kumar Sangakkara’s jaunty sledging of the South African captain Shaun Pollock at the 2003 cricket World Cup neatly highlighted the pressure of being hosts. The weight of all those expectations! Even if you go on to win the tournament, as France’s football team did in 1984 and 1998, it’s hard to enjoy it until afterwards.
Tonight, at least, France can relax. They have already qualified for the last 16 and, although they’d like to finish top of the group and get in the easier half of the draw, it’s not the end of the world if they don’t. For the first and last time in the tournament, they should be able to enjoy themselves.
Kick off is at 8pm in London, 9pm in Lille.
Rob will be here soon enough. In the meantime, read how that man Paul Pogba, fit with a new patriotic hairdo, is going into battle with the French press:
When Karim Benzema was left out of the France squad for Euro 2016 by Didier Deschamps, following questioning by police in November over an alleged blackmail attempt against his team-mate Mathieu Valbuena,Eric Cantona suggested there was an element of discrimination against the player of Algerian origin.
Deschamps has categorically denied this and is taking legal action against his former team-mate but further concerns have been raised this week towards the French media, particularly the sports daily L’Equipe, which faced criticism on social media from France supporters who accused journalists of unfairly criticising the team and looking to create drama around particular players.