Salvador, Brazil (SportsNetwork.com) - When France and Switzerland meet up at the Arena Fonte Nova on Friday, the two sides will battle for supremacy in Group E.
Both teams claimed three points from their opening contests with France handling Honduras, 3-0, while Switzerland claimed a dramatic 2-1 victory over Ecuador thanks to a stoppage-time winner from Haris Seferovic.
France expected to be in this situation after one game as Les Bleus entered the tournament as group favorites, while Switzerland will be pleased to have overcome Ecuador, which was expected to be its biggest rival in the battle for second place.
France dominated the first half against Honduras but had to wait until just before halftime to open the scoring when Wilson Palacios of Honduras collected a second yellow card for a foul on Paul Pogba inside the area, allowing Karim Benzema to fire home the penalty kick.
Things opened up in the second half as France made the most of its numerical advantage by going up 2-0 in the 48th minute on an own goal before Benzema tallied his second goal of the match to cap the scoring in the 72nd.
"I had in mind to play a good game, win while also trying to play my football without pressure. I did tonight," Benzema said. "I'm very happy and very proud. But the most important thing is winning. Some judge me on my number of goals but, for me, the way I play counts a lot."
Head coach Didier Deschamps had to be pleased with not only Benzema but also with the performance of his entire team, which can take a big step toward securing first place in Group E with a win over the Swiss.
"We will enjoy this victory, a 3-0 win in the World Cup, because it's never easy," said Deschamps. "We were patient. We had our chances and hit the bar twice in the first period. We did well. Pleasure is total in football when there is victory."
Ottmar Hitzfeld's Switzerland also had to take pleasure from its opening match as the Swiss find themselves in position to reach the knockout round for the second time in three World Cups.
It was a bit surprising to see Switzerland go behind in the first half from a set piece as the team fell asleep and allowed a free header six yards in front of its goal.
But the side regrouped and was able to hold off the South Americans for the remainder of the game, despite the fact that Hitzfeld acknowledged his team was struggling with fitness near the end.
A good start indeed for Switzerland, which had only given up one goal in its previous seven World Cup matches prior to the Ecuador game.
However, Benzema and France figure to severely test Switzerland's defensive record, and if Les Bleus are successful, a return to the knockout round will be within touching distance.