RIBEIRAO PRETO, Brazil (AP) — Coach Didier Deschamps is trying to take the spotlight away from striker Karim Benzema heading into France's potentially decisive clash with Switzerland on Friday.
Whoever wins in Salvador will take a significant step toward clinching top spot in Group E and therefore avoid a likely match against Lionel Messi's Argentina in the next round. France has a better goal difference and will surely put the Swiss out of reach with a win.
The Swiss will need to contain Benzema, who scored twice in Sunday's 3-0 win against a Honduras side that was reduced to 10 men before halftime. With eight goals in the past seven games, he is enjoying the best spell of his international career at just the right time.
However, Deschamps is keen to quieten the growing hype surrounding the Real Madrid striker.
"I don't want him to start thinking that he's on a mission and that everything depends on him. That's not a good thing," Deschamps said. "Everyone believes in him, but he should just be himself and not think that it's just down to him to make a difference."
The Swiss opened with a 2-1 win against Ecuador, although Ottmar Hitzfeld's team can play much better than in that scrappy game.
While the French had to watch their backs — literally — against a Honduras side repeatedly charging into the back of them, Friday's match is likely to be more of a tactical contest between two well-organized and technically assured sides.
"They'll be obviously be committed, but it won't be anything like we had (against Honduras)," Deschamps said. "Their attacking line is much different, with much more individual quality, especially with the wingers who are heavily involved."
Deschamps picked Antoine Griezmann on the left against Honduras, dropping Olivier Giroud to the bench — much to the disappointment of the Arsenal forward.
"It would be worrying if he wasn't disappointed. But Didier has choices to make. It was a strategic decision to choose a player who is more comfortable playing a short passing game," assistant coach Guy Stephan said. "It doesn't mean the same choice will be made against Switzerland and Ecuador."
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