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Switzerland to defend against France

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 19, 2014 at 2:56 pm •  Published: June 19, 2014

SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld made no secret on Thursday about his tactics heading into Switzerland's potentially decisive clash with France: Solid defending and quick counterattacks.

Whoever wins in Salvador on Friday will take a major step toward clinching top spot in Group E, and probably avoid Lionel Messi's Argentina in the second round.

"It's a derby," Hitzfeld said. "We have to be firm in the defense and react quickly on counter strikes."

Switzerland began its World Cup campaign with a 2-1 win against Ecuador after a late goal by Haris Seferovic. The French easily beat Honduras 3-0 after it was reduced to 10 men before halftime

"If we want to stand a chance against France, we will have to play beyond our limits," the veteran German coach said. "In the first match, we were a bit nervous. "We have to be calmer and more composed."

Under Hitzfeld, Switzerland has been transformed into a very efficient team, losing just once in 18 matches over the past two years and reaching No. 6 in the FIFA rankings.

"The FIFA ranking does not really matter, except to say that we are a really good team," Swiss defender Steve von Bergen said.

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