Jake Gordon will return from a knee injury scare to start for the Wallabies against France in the first Test in Brisbane on Wednesday. 

The Waratahs captain is set to line up alongside Noah Lolesio in the halves with Nic White and James O'Connor ruled out due to injury. 

Few would have predicted Gordon would don the Australia number nine jersey so soon after he left late in a defeat to the Highlanders last month with what was initially feared to be an anterior cruciate ligament injury. 

Yet he was able to make a quick recovery after scans revealed only minor damage to his medial collateral ligament, opening the door for his first Wallabies start since his debut against Italy back in 2018.

Up front, Lolesio's Brumbies team-mates James Slipper and Allan Alaalatoa are the starting props and Brandon Paenga-Amosa was named at hooker by head coach Dave Rennie.

Matt Philip and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto are in the second row, with Rob Valetini to make his first start for the Wallabies at blindside flanker, captain Michael Hooper in the number seven shirt and Harry Wilson at number eight.

Veteran Matt Toomua is at number 12 alongside Hunter Paisami.

The back three features Marika Koroibete and the Brumbies pairing of Tom Wright and Tom Banks.

"The whole squad has been training really hard over the past three weeks to prepare for what’s going to be an exciting, tough series against the French," Rennie said.

"We’ve always selected a side based on earning the right to wear the jersey and this team is no different.

"The whole group is excited to be back playing Test rugby in front of our families and supporters and we’re looking to start the year with a positive result at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.”

Australia have won their past 11 at home against France dating back to a 1990 loss in Brisbane.


Australia: Tom Banks Tom Wright, Hunter Paisami, Matt Toomua, Marika Koroibete, Noah Lolesio, Jake Gordon; James Slipper, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Allan Alaalatoa, Matt Philip, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Rob Valenti, Michael Hooper, Harry Wilson.

Replacements: Lachlan Lonergan, Angus Bell, Taniela Tupou, Darcy Swain, Isi Naisarani, Tate McDermott, Len Ikitau, Andrew Kellaway.

Bayern Munich have confirmed defender Lucas Hernandez has had successful surgery on a knee injury.

Hernandez tore the medial meniscus of his left knee during France's 2-2 draw with Portugal at Euro 2020 on June 23.

Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said in a statement on Sunday: "We wish Lucas a full and speedy recovery. Our doctors are very pleased with the course of the operation. He will be available again in a few weeks."

Hernandez has made 62 appearances for Bayern in all competitions since joining from Atletico Madrid two years ago.

The 25-year-old has suffered only one defeat in his 42 Bundesliga games, while he did not lose a single one of the 25 league matches he played in his first season at the Allianz Arena as Bayern won the treble under Hansi Flick.

The German champions, now coached by Julian Nagelsmann, begin their title defence away to Borussia Monchengladbach on August 13.

 

Didier Deschamps will hold talks with French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet next week to discuss France's Euro 2020 disappointment.

Pre-tournament favourites France topped a tough group containing Portugal, Germany and Hungary, only to be eliminated at the last-16 stage on penalties by Switzerland.

It marked the first time since the 2010 World Cup that Les Blues had failed to reach at least the quarter-finals of a major competition.

France's premature exit led to questions about Deschamps' future, with Zinedine Zidane being heavily linked with the job since leaving his position as Real Madrid boss in May.

Deschamps is under contract until after the 2022 World Cup and has been in charge of his country since 2012, lifting the World Cup in 2018 and reaching the Euro 2016 final in that time.

La Great insisted last week that the 52-year-old's position is not under immediate threat, but the FFF president plans to meet with Deschamps in the coming days.

"We will meet next week. I always let 10 days pass first," La Graet told Telefoot. "We'll meet in my office in Guingamp and spend the day together.

"Everyone has to think about what went right and what went wrong. We'll spend the day chatting. He's a friend, someone who has always been faithful. This is his first failure."

 

When asked about his recent comments of Deschamps' job being safe, La Graet said: "I didn't say that. I said we will have a discussion. We will speak about what went wrong."

France beat Germany 1-0 in their opening Euro 2020 game, but they then played out draws with Portugal and Hungary before losing on penalties to Switzerland following a 3-3 draw.

The world champions squandered a commanding 3-1 lead against the Swiss in Bucharest and were knocked out 5-4 in the shoot-out.

Les Blues have now been eliminated in their last three games in which they played extra time in major tournaments, as many as in their first 11.

Reflecting on his nation's shock exit in the first knockout round, La Graet said: "I feel disappointment more than anger. We must remember we had a difficult group.

"We finished top of our pool, and switched off for 10 minutes against Switzerland. Not everyone played at the same level, but we can't throw away everything we've previously done.

"We have quality players and coaches. We will analyse things that didn't work next week. Sometimes it's small details."

France are back in action on September 1 with a World Cup qualifier against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Paul Pogba "lost the plot" in France's dramatic Euro 2020 last-16 exit to Switzerland, according to 1998 World Cup winner Emmanuel Petit.

Didier Deschamps' side appeared to be coasting towards the quarter-finals on Monday after overcoming a 1-0 half-time deficit to lead 3-1 through Karim Benzema's double and a sumptuous long-range effort from Pogba.

But Haris Seferovic's second of the game nine minutes from time preceded a last-gasp equaliser from Mario Gavranovic, the build-up to which saw Pogba lose the ball too easily in midfield.

During the game Pogba was seen clashing angrily with team-mate Adrien Rabiot, with the families of both players also reportedly remonstrating in the stands.

France went on to lose 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out, with Kylian Mbappe missing the crucial spot-kick, and former Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder Petit was at a loss to explain the world champions' implosion.

"I don't really understand what happened to France versus Switzerland," Petit told PaddyPower.

"During the game we only played well for 20 minutes after [Hugo] Lloris stopped the penalty. After it, we looked confident and like a good team.

"But then there was one incident – Pogba lost the ball for the second Swiss goal – and France collapsed.

"We lost everything. Concentration, team spirit, desire – and the tie. Worst of all, we started fighting on the pitch between ourselves.

"There was a big clash between Rabiot and Pogba, who lost the plot, after the second Swiss goal and from then on we had no control, no confidence.

"We looked average – it's hard to explain."

 

It was a strange outing for Pogba, who had largely impressed with an industrious performance in central midfield. 

No France player won more than his 19 duels, while his 72 successful passes was also a team high and he had an impressive 93.6 per cent passing success rate in the opposition half.

By contrast, Mbappe's miss in the shoot-out was emblematic of a disappointing tournament in which the Paris Saint-Germain superstar failed to score.

None of his six shots against Switzerland managed to hit the target, including a glorious opportunity in extra time.

Petit alluded to the issues Mbappe had pre-tournament with Olivier Giroud, who had complained of a lack of service during a warm-up friendly against Bulgaria, leading to reports of a dispute between the two.

"Mbappe was asking for more responsibilities before the tournament, and there were stories about not passing the ball to Giroud," Petit added.

"There was even fighting in the stands between Rabiot, Mbappe and Pogba's families after the second goal.

"Then Mbappe's penalty is saved in the shootout. We looked so far away from the World Cup-winning team.

"It reminds me of our team in 2002, when we went out in the group stage of the World Cup. It's a real shame because it doesn't need to be like this."

 

Kylian Mbappe apologised for his failed penalty as France crashed out of Euro 2020 at the hands of Switzerland, with the star insisting he has sleepless nights ahead.

Mbappe had his spot-kick saved by Yann Sommer, whose heroics lifted Switzerland to a shock 5-4 penalty shoot-out victory against world champions France in the last 16 on Monday.

France had rallied to a 3-1 lead with 15 minutes of regulation time remaining after falling behind early to Switzerland in Bucharest, where Les Bleus used Karim Benzema's quick-fire brace and Paul Pogba's stunner to turn the match on its head.

Switzerland, who saw Ricardo Rodriguez's penalty saved for a chance to move 2-0 clear early in the second half, sensationally forced extra time thanks to Haris Seferovic's second goal and Mario Gavranovic's last-gasp strike.

Mbappe was involved in the decisive moment, his penalty kept out by Sommer as France failed to reach the quarter-final stage of a major tournament (European Champion and World Cup) for the first time since the 2010 World Cup.

"Very difficult to turn the page," Mbappe – who has had more shots (14) without scoring than any other player at Euro 2020 – said in a post shared on Instagram. "The sadness is immense after this elimination, we were not able to achieve our objective.

"I am sorry for this penalty. I wanted to help the team but I failed. It will be hard to sleep but sadly these are the risks of this sport that I love so much.

"I know that you the fans are disappointed, but I would still like to thank you for your support and for having always believed in us.

"The most important thing will be to get up even stronger for the challenges to come. Congratulations and good luck to Switzerland."

Didier Deschamps' France have been eliminated in their last three games in which they played extra time in major tournaments (Euros and World Cup), as many as in their first 11.

France captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris told beIN SPORTS: "We win together, we lose together. We are all responsible for being eliminated at this stage of the competition.

"There is no pointing fingers. We had to deal with injuries, but we have no right to make excuses. This is a competition.

"We gave everything, we left it all out on the pitch. Penalties are a lottery. We did not have the luck.

"We will now need to manage the pain. At 3-1 we should have been able to close the match out. But this is football, this is why we love it, this is why it hurts. Tonight hurts a lot."

Granit Xhaka could not contain his joy after Switzerland sensationally eliminated world champions France in the last 16 at Euro 2020, describing the triumph as "f****** amazing".

Switzerland completed a remarkable comeback in a penalty shoot-out following Monday's dramatic 3-3 draw in Bucharest, where Yann Sommer emerged the hero after saving Kylian Mbappe's spot-kick.

Having opened the scoring and seen Ricardo Rodriguez's penalty saved by Hugo Lloris early in the second half, Switzerland found themselves 3-1 behind with 15 minutes of regulation time remaining.

But Haris Seferovic netted his second of the game in the 81st minute before Mario Gavranovic's last-gasp strike forced extra-time after cancelling out Karim Benzema's brace and Paul Pogba's stunner.

Sommer then stepped up with the decisive save in the shoot-out after extra time to send Switzerland through to the quarter-finals at a major tournament for the first time since the 1954 World Cup.

"It is f****** amazing man," Switzerland captain and man of the match Xhaka – who refused to rule out a move to Jose Mourinho's Roma from Arsenal – told beIN SPORTS.

"We lose two goals and then we go up. Then the penalty we missed broke us a bit. We showed a beautiful character. It's a hell of a team.

"We showed a lot of character, I don't even know what to say. In 10 minutes, we go back to 3-3. The last 30 minutes we were better, we wanted to finish and win before the penalty shoot-out. In the end, we are qualified. We are writing the history of our national team."

It was the first time in Switzerland's history that they had won a penalty shoot-out at a European Championship or World Cup, thanks to Sommer's save.

As Switzerland look ahead to Friday's showdown with Spain in St Petersburg, Sommer told EURO2020.com: "What a match! What an evening of football.

"It was our chance to finally go through the round of 16, because we never made it before. It's incredible, we played with heart and with character. It’s amazing.

"It was a really difficult situation for us after the penalty miss. I'm really proud of the team, how they came back. We always believed. Even before the game we said no matter what happens in the game, it doesn't matter if we're down, or if things are going well; we play until the end, we never give up.

"It's always 'anything is possible'. We believe. We said before the game that we are a small country, but we have a lot of quality and a lot of experience and we showed it tonight."

France head coach Didier Deschamps dismissed questions about his future after the world champions surprisingly crashed out of Euro 2020 at the hands of Switzerland in the last 16.

Deschamps' France lost 5-4 on penalties to Switzerland after Kylian Mbappe's spot-kick was saved by Yann Sommer, squandering a 3-1 lead with 15 minutes of regulation time remaining in Bucharest on Monday.

France failed to reach the quarter-final stage of a major tournament (European Champion and World Cup) for the first time since the 2010 World Cup following the shoot-out against Switzerland after the dramatic 3-3 draw at the end of extra time.

Deschamps is contracted until 2022 and has been in charge of Les Bleus since 2012, lifting the World Cup in 2018 and finishing European Championship runners-up in 2016.

France's premature Euro 2020 exit led to questions about the former France international's future as national team boss amid links with former Real Madrid boss and countryman Zinedine Zidane.

"That is not the question," Deschamps told beIN SPORTS after the defeat. "There is a unity and solidarity in this squad.

"I am responsible when things go badly - I am with them, they are with me. We will need to time to manage this, it hurts tonight."

France superstar Mbappe had his spot-kick saved in the decisive shoot-out moment by Sommer as Switzerland reached the quarter-finals of a major tournament for the first time since the 1954 World Cup.

Paris Saint-Germain's Mbappe had more shots (14) without scoring than any other player at Euro 2020.

Deschamps refused to blame Mbappe, adding: "Nobody can be annoyed with him.

"When you take the responsibility, it can happen. He is obviously very affected by it."

Deschamps said France showed weakness by allowing Switzerland's two late goals which forced extra-time.

France had fought back from a first-half deficit after Haris Seferovic's 15th-minute opener, with three second-half goals in 18 minutes, initially a Karim Benzema double before Paul Pogba's stunning strike.

Switzerland pulled a goal back with Seferovic's close-range header before Mario Gavranovic found space to level in the 90th minute to force extra time.

France have been eliminated in their last three games in which they played extra time in major tournaments (Euros and World Cup), as many as in their first 11.

"It is always complicated to explain," Deschamps said. "We failed with our first half, we did what was needed to turn it around in the second half.

"Usually our strength is being solid, we showed weakness that allowed Switzerland back in. This is hard, it hurts, we did everything we could for this to end differently. That's football.

"This tournament ends for us today. There is no magic formula."

June 28, 2021 – it has been a 'remember where you were' kind of day at the European Championship, with the round of 16 treating us to two absolute classics.

After seeing Spain emerge as winners over Croatia in an eight-goal match, many of us were probably settling down to watch France expecting a rather duller affair given their approach in the group stage.

What we got was the complete opposite, as Switzerland pulled off what will probably be the biggest shock of the tournament regardless of what happens from this point on.

With 14 goals between the two matches, only June 23, 2021 has seen more scored on a single day in Euros history but that came from a pool of four matches.

Furthermore, this was the first day at a European Championship or World Cup with two games featuring at least six goals each since June 15, 1982.

At the end of a truly remarkable day, Stats Perform looks at the key Opta stats from two engrossing matches.

Croatia 3-5 Spain (after extra time): Calamitous own goal sets tone for chaotic classic

Given how wasteful Spain have been at times in Euro 2020, it's a remarkable achievement that they have managed to become the first side in European Championship history to score five goals in successive games.

But rarely did they have things their own way, shooting themselves in the foot with Pedri scoring the longest-range own goal in Euros history at 49 yards as Unai Simon saw his pass bobble over his foot.

Incredibly, it was the ninth own goal at Euro 2020, as many as in the previous 15 editions of the tournament combined.

Pablo Sarabia equalised before the break, with Cesar Azpilicueta – now Spain's oldest-ever Euros scorer (31 years, 304 days) – and Ferran Torres putting them 3-1 up in the second period. They were cruising.

Or, they were until the last five minutes of normal time when Mislav Orsic and Mario Pasalic both scored, incredibly forcing extra-time.

But back came La Roja. Alvaro Morata silenced his army of critics with his fifth career goal at the Euros, levelling the Spanish record held by Fernando Torres, and then Mikel Oyarzabal made sure of the victory.

France 3-3 Switzerland (aet, 4-5 on penalties): Mbappe endures nightmare as Swiss refuse to roll over

While it was always going to be tricky for France to go all the way given their tough group and the fact they were on the trickier (in theory) side of the draw, anyone who says they predicted Les Bleus being eliminated by Switzerland is a liar.

Yet here we are, and the Swiss are into the quarter-finals. And, to be fair, they might have booked their place earlier had Hugo Lloris not become the first French goalkeeper to save a penalty at a major tournament (excluding shoot-outs) since 2004 when Switzerland were already 1-0 up.

Within four minutes and three seconds of that save, France were 2-1 up – Karim Benzema making himself only the second Frenchman to score two or more goals in successive games at the Euros since Michel Platini's back-to-back hat-tricks at Euro 84.

Paul Pogba then got what should have been the clincher 15 minutes from time with a scorching finish, his fourth in five goals for France to come from outside the box.

But Haris Seferovic got his second of the game to take his tally to three goals in two games after only previously managing one in 13 major tournament appearances, and Mario Gavranovic's dramatic effort secured extra time.

It was in the extra 30 minutes when Mbappe was particularly wasteful, missing one especially good chance, and what followed in the shoot-out ultimately made sense in that context.

After the first nine kicks were converted, Mbappe – who has had more shots (14) without scoring than any other player at Euro 2020 – saw his effort saved by Yann Sommer.

It means Switzerland will contest a quarter-final for the first time since 1954, while France failed to get to that stage for the first time since 2010.

 

Didier Deschamps has frequently faced accusations that he makes his world champions France unpalatably dull considering the enviable attacking talent at his disposal.

Maybe boredom trumps humiliation.

You could call sending his players out to take on Switzerland in an unfamiliar 3-4-3 formation plenty of things, given very few of them appeared to have the foggiest idea what they were supposed to be doing. But it certainly wasn't dull.

By half-time in a Euro 2020 last-16 tie that looked a formality on paper, France were 1-0 down and had not managed a shot on target.

Even allowing for the disorganisation, uncertainty and flailing team-mates playing out of position behind them, this spoke poorly of the dream Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann forward line. 

A magic triangle to rival the celebrated magic square, or carre magique, of Michel Platini, Jean Tigana, Luis Fernandez and Alan Giresse that inspired France to European Championship glory in 1984 appeared to have few tricks up their sleeve. For one of them, their night in Bucharest would get far, far worse.

Haris Seferovic's dominant header made mincemeat of Clement Lenglet and France's dubious defensive positioning in general, but the manner in which Benzema, Mbappe and Griezmann were caught watching events unfold – not attempting to get back goal side before the ball was worked out to Steven Zuber for his fourth assist of the tournament – reflected some combination of disorganisation and disinterest.

 

"It was a disaster, this first-half," Deschamps former international team-mate Patrick Vieira told ITV at the interval.  "We can talk about the organisation, the new system, but there is a positive attitude to have."

The system was ripe for the bin, regardless, and Kingsley Coman came on for the embattled Lenglet. Benjamin Pavard celebrated being back in his more familiar right-back position by clattering into Zuber and conceding a penalty.

Handily for Deschamps, his captain Hugo Lloris is rarely anything other than entertaining. A raking pass to set up Griezmann's goal against Hungary was followed by him punching Danilo Pereira in the head to give up a spot-kick in the 2-2 draw against Portugal.

Lloris got a fleeting look at a pair of Cristiano Ronaldo penalties in that game, but Ricardo Rodriguez's left-footed strike from 12 yards lacked the power or disguise necessary to outfox Tottenham's number one. It was the sort of moment that can haunt a career.

Then the magic happened. Griezmann found Mbappe, whose pass was under hit and behind Benzema. The Real Madrid striker brilliantly brought it under his spell with a Bergkamp-esque piece of skill and finished emphatically.

The trio who cowered towards the left channel ineffectively before half-time had burst into life. Griezmann completed a give-and-go with Mbappe and chipped to the back post for Benzema to nod in. Four minutes and two seconds after Rodriguez's penalty was saved, France led 2-1.

 

It was easy to ask why Deschamps doesn't take the handbrake off more often when Paul Pogba's stunning 25-yard strike brought the house down. Well, we had our answer when the roof fell in on France.

Seferovic found some more vintage centre-forward play to head his second before Pogba was ransacked in midfield and Granit Xhaka's majestic pass located a touch and finish to match from substitute Mario Gavranovic.

Spain 5-3 Croatia the game of the day with unmatchable drama? Hold my Beaujolais!

Coman hit the crossbar in injury time and Pavard was superbly denied by Yann Sommer in extra time as Mbappe's radar remained curiously off.

He slashed dreadfully into the side-netting after injury had denied Benzema the chance of a hat-trick. Coman crafted that chance but limped off immediately after, continuing the sense of an improbable unravelling. Griezmann was already on the sidelines, having been sacrificed to protect the result in normal time.

Despite weary legs and minds, nine immaculate penalties followed, meaning it fell to Mbappe after 14 shots and no goals in the tournament. The one remaining star forward was asked to save his side, facing the sort of moment to haunt a career.

 

Never before can this superman footballer have felt so hopelessly human in his stellar young career. Sommer sensed his moment, sprung to his right and clawed away France's claims on sporting immortality.

Back-to-back World Cups would secure such a status and expect Mbappe to be more like himself again by Qatar 2022. One-and-a-half years of pandemic football has sapped everyone.

Deschamps' contract will also keep him in place until then and the stew of confusion and chaos served up in Bucharest is likely to prompt further caution. Despite leading his players to the top of the mountain three years ago, it somehow feels like he's selling them short.    

Kylian Mbappe saw the crucial spot-kick saved by Yann Sommer as Euro 2020 favourites France were eliminated by Switzerland in a thrilling shoot-out after a dramatic 3-3 draw in Monday's last-16 tie.

France looked to have battled back from the brink after going a goal down early on and conceding a penalty only to then find themselves 3-1 up with 15 minutes of regulation time remaining in Bucharest.

But a late Swiss fight-back saw Haris Seferovic net his second and Mario Gavranovic force extra-time after cancelling out Karim Benzema's brace and Paul Pogba's scorcher.

Both sides had chances in the extra 30 minutes but poor finishing meant the game went to penalties, where Mbappe's disappointing tournament was summed up with the unsuccessful kick that sent France packing, Sommer diving to his right to make the save that sent remarkably sent Switzerland through 5-4 in the shoot-out.

 

Aymeric Laporte has claimed Didier Deschamps did not reply to his messages before the defender switched international allegiance from France to Spain.

Manchester City centre-back Laporte declared for La Roja last month after being granted Spanish citizenship, leading to him being included in their 24-man Euro 2020 squad.

Laporte represented France at youth level, including the Under-21s, but was never handed a senior cap despite being called up by Deschamps.

The 27-year-old has made a positive start to his Spain career by helping his side to three clean sheets in his first four caps, while also scoring in last week's 5-0 win over Slovakia.

Spain finished second in their Euro 2020 group and are on course to face France in the quarter-finals should the heavyweight nations see off Croatia and Switzerland respectively in the last 16.

Deschamps insisted ahead of the tournament he was only ever contacted once by Laporte to discuss an injury issue, but the player has refuted those suggestions.

"They called me six years ago. But in 2019? No, they didn't call me. While I don't want to go over this again, I had sent a message and didn't get a reply," he told The Guardian.

"I have it here. Maybe [Deschamps] changed number, got a new phone. Could be. I don't know, but I replied to the same number he'd called from before.

"I didn't get a reply then. Anyway, given everything that happened, nor did I think I was important enough to France to have to inform them of anything.

"My importance to them has been more a media issue than anything. I've always been very clear that I'm going to be with those that want me, not those that don't.

"I'm not saying France didn't want me, but I'm grateful to those that bet on me. Spain did and I'm trying to return that faith."

 

Laporte's passing accuracy of 96.64 is the third-highest of any player to have played more than 90 minutes at Euro 2020, behind Axel Witsel (96.91) and Dedryck Boyata (97.74).

The former Athletic Bilbao man's 86.33 successful passes per 90 minutes, meanwhile, has been bettered by just five others, including new team-mate Pau Torres (94.52), reflecting how quickly he has settled in with his adopted national team.

"Everyone has different feelings. I felt comfortable coming with Spain, fully identified," he said. "That's what made me change everything. 

"Also, my family hasn't spent eight years in Spain like me.

"I'd been in contact with Spain for years because they've always wanted me. Luis Enrique called. I took the decision.

"It wasn't easy at all. My family still lives in France and from very young I played there with the national team. 

"There were family chats, discussions, an exchange of opinions, the same doubts there would be if you had dual nationality I imagine."

France captain Hugo Lloris believes the outcome of the Euro 2020 last-16 clash with Switzerland will hinge on the match-day attitude of Les Bleus.

The title favourites have yet to truly hit their stride, narrowly beating Germany but drawing with Portugal and Hungary in the group stage.

They topped Group F but left room for improvement, and will look to show in Monday's clash with the Swiss in Bucharest that their pedigree has not been overstated.

Lloris said in a news conference on Sunday: "We've turned the page from the group stage which demanded a lot of effort. We're entering a new competition.

"In the approach we take, it's completely different. We know that we can't make an error. There will be adversity. We will have a great team playing against us who have achieved beautiful things in recent seasons.

"We know the mental aspect will come into play. This will certainly be key to success. We have to produce a performance of a very, very high level to get through to the next round.

"We can count on our background and experience but that's not enough. We have to put all the necessary ingredients together to succeed.

"This wil mean lots of effort, sacrifices, talent and equally discipline. We have to be prepared to overcome this challenge in a mental sense. All of this as a team. From the start we've lived this adventure with all the players, the technical and medical staff. We want to go as far together as possible."

 

France have a number of injuries, with Lucas Digne, Jules Kounde and Marcus Thuram all ruled out by head coach Didier Deschamps. Lucas Hernandez could be involved, though, after a knee problem.

Goalkeeper Lloris said: "It's up to us to give the response on the pitch, by putting in the necessary energy, showing discipline and making the efforts to write our history and create success.

"We're a team of competitors, we don't like losing, but especially when you know that you can go home, the challenge is even greater. It's up to us to do what is necessary in our performance to still be there in the next round and to rise to the occasion."

Karim Benzema's two goals in the draw with Portugal were a welcome boost for France, with the recalled Real Madrid striker showing his value.

Benzema and Antoine Griezmann, who scored in the draw with Hungary, are the only France players to score so far at these finals, with a Mats Hummels own goal bringing about the team's opening win over Germany.

There is surely more to come from the likes of Kylian Mbappe, who has had a team-high eight shots at goal and built up an expected goals tally of 1.29, second only to Benzema (1.71).

According to Lloris, there was never any doubt about Benzema's impact on his return, even before he made a goalscoring contribution.

"I think he's been ready, since he was called up, to do what is necessary for the team but also in a personal sense to bring his experience, his background and his talent in order to help the France team," Lloris said.

"Obviously a striker is looking for goals, that builds confidence. We already know his influence on the team's game, we've not needed to wait for him to score these two goals to see it."

Karim Benzema will hope to build upon a return to the international scoresheet when France take on Switzerland in the last 16 of Euro 2020.

Benzema netted both his team's goals in 2-2 draw with Portugal that secured top spot in Group F for Les Bleus last time out – his first since the end of an exile from the national team that began in 2015.

In his only previous appearance against Switzerland at the 2014 World Cup, the 33-year-old Real Madrid forward scored twice and supplied an assist in a resounding 5-2 win.

Indeed, this will be the fifth meeting between the teams at a major tournament and France are unbeaten in the previous four, with their most recent encounter at Euro 2016 finishing goalless.

If the identity of a France front three featuring Benzema, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe feels fairly settled, Didier Deschamps' starting formation has become a matter for debate.

 

A report by L'Equipe du Soir claimed a number of players have asked the coaching staff to revert to a 3-4-3 system

Jules Kounde started at right-back against Portugal but is a doubt for Monday's game in Bucharest with a hamstring problem and, while Lucas Hernandez is back in training after a knee complaint forced him off at half-time in the previous match, Lucas Digne (thigh) is out, meaning Deschamps has plenty to ponder whether operating with a back three or a back four.

"They’re a well-structured team and they have good attacking potential with [Haris] Seferovic, [Breel] Embolo and [Xherdan] Shaqiri," the World Cup-winning coach said of Switzerland.

"We must not underestimate them and it's a knockout game so we’ll have to do everything we can to ensure we have smiles on our faces at the end of the match."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

France – Kylian Mbappe

While Benzema is now off and running for the tournament and Griezmann netted the equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Hungary, Mbappe is yet to get off the mark – a state of affairs that surely cannot continue much longer for the Paris Saint-Germain superstar. Mbappe has no goals from eight shots in the tournament with a combined expected goals (xG) value of 1.3.

 

Switzerland – Xherdan Shaqiri

One man who had no problem in front of goal during the final round of group stage matches was Liverpool attacker Shaqiri, upon whom Switzerland will again pin plenty of their hopes. His brace against Turkey made him Switzerland's all-time leading scorer in major tournaments with seven, overtaking Josef Hugi (six).

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Switzerland have reached the knockout stages at each of their past four major tournaments. They were eliminated in their first match following the group stages on each of those previous three instances.
- France have only lost one of their previous 17 matches at the Euros and World Cup combined (W12 D4) – the Euro 2016 final against Portugal.
- Switzerland will face the reigning world champions at a major tournament for the first time. Overall, they have won only three of their 20 matches against reigning world champions (D9 L8), with this their first such match since a 1-1 draw with Italy in June 2010.
- France progressed the ball upfield 18.7 metres per sequence on average during the group stages, the highest figure of any side, highlighting their ability to advance the ball after regaining possession.
- Griezmann has played in each of France's past 51 matches, a run that started on August 31, 2017 against the Netherlands. The Barcelona forward is the only player to make 50+ appearances for a European country since that date.

Presnel Kimpembe has defended team-mate Kylian Mbappe after the forward was criticised by former player Jerome Rothen for putting himself first over the team.

Mbappe failed to score or assist a goal in France's three Euro 2020 group matches, but Les Blues still advanced with draws against Hungary and Portugal after beating Germany.

The Paris Saint-Germain star's eight attempts are the most of any France player in the tournament, but he found the target from just three of those.

Only three players – Gerard Moreno (nine), Burak Yilmaz and Martin Braithwaite (both 10) – had more attempts in the group phase without scoring.

Mbappe is four games without a goal overall, meanwhile, and ex-PSG winger Rothen has suggested the 22-year-old's ego is hindering his performances.

"There's no problem with Mbappe being the leader on the field, but when it goes beyond the field then it annoys me," Rothen, who earned 13 senior caps for France, told RMC Sport.

"I don't think Didier Deschamps can handle it anymore and it is becoming troublesome. It's amazing Kylian is allowed to do so many things. His ego is inordinate and is a problem."

 

Mbappe created three chances in the games against Germany, Hungary and Portugal, which is one fewer than Paul Pogba and three fewer than Antoine Griezmann.

But Kimpembe has no concerns over Mbappe's form and believes it is just a matter of time before he starts scoring goals again.

"There is still a long way to go in the competition," he said at a news conference on Saturday ahead of France's last-16 tie with Switzerland. 

"Scoring will not be a problem for him. He is also there to provide for the rest of the team. He is creating a lot of chances.

"He is not scoring but is playing a part in the team's offensive actions and is happy to help others – that is the most important thing for the team. Above all, the results are most important."

France's entertaining 2-2 draw with Portugal on Wednesday saw them finish top of Group F and set up a meeting with Switzerland in Bucharest on Monday.

Should Les Blues pass their first knockout-round test, they are on course to face either Spain or Croatia – the side they beat in the 2018 World Cup final – in the quarter-finals.

And while France managed just one win in their three group fixtures, Kimpembe was eager to put things into perspective after topping an extremely tough group. 

"To come out on top in the group of death, I'll take that," Kimpembe said. "What would you rather: finish first with a few problems, or second and third with good performances?

"You have to put things into perspective and look at the bright side. The objective was to finish first, which we've achieved. We are very happy about that."

France have now gone two years since their last competitive defeat, which came against Turkey in a European Championship qualifier in June 2019.

Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo provided some of the most enduring images of Euro 2020 when France faced off with Portugal on Wednesday.

Social media was abuzz over the "bromance" between the former Real Madrid team-mates, the pair sharing a cheeky smirk with one another prior to kick-off and then embracing both at half-time and after the final whistle.

The duo both moved to the Santiago Bernabeu at the same time in their careers ahead of the 2009-10 season and enjoyed nine prolific campaigns together before Ronaldo – Madrid's all-time record goalscorer – moved on to Juventus.

Clearly, the respect the two have for one another still runs deep, with Benzema revealing what they discussed after a thrilling 2-2 draw in Budapest, a result which means both teams progress to the last 16.

"It's nice to see him again, we have come a long way together," Benzema told reporters following a game in which he and Ronaldo both scored twice.

"We both played eight or nine years at Real Madrid, we scored goals, won trophies.

"We spoke, we wished each other good luck for the future with our clubs and in the tournament and especially to continue to have fun on the field and continue to make the difference."

Ronaldo has scored five times in the tournament to draw level with Ali Daei's record of 109 international goals. Portugal next face Belgium, while world champions France are up against Switzerland.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.