(Reuters) – Switzerland do not expect too many chances when they take on world champions France in the last 16 of the European Championship in Bucharest on Monday, so will need to take them when they get them, full back Ricardo Rodriguez said.
But if there is a stalemate, the Swiss will be well prepared. They practised penalties at their Rome training camp before leaving for Romania on Friday and Rodriguez said almost everyone scored.
“We have to defend very compactly and use the few opportunities we have,” the 28-year-old told reporters. “But anything is possible at a tournament. We are fit and ready.”
Rodriquez, who had limited game time in Serie A with strugglers Torino this season, remains a regular in the national team and faces a barrage of top talent on Monday such as Karim Benzema, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe.
“(They are) Certainly the best attack at this tournament,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll have to be very careful and also very aggressive towards the three of them. All three are very strong. Mbappe is the fastest, Benzema has many years of experience at Real Madrid, he knows how to score goals.”
However, Rodriguez insisted the Swiss were capable of an upset.
“We can do it. We are ready, we’ve have trained well. The long break did us good after the many arduous flights,” he said.
The Swiss started their tournament in Azerbaijan, flew to Rome for their second group game, and then back to Baku again, where their return to their base was delayed by a flight problem. When they play France, it will be eight days since their last game against Turkey.
Switzerland have crashed out in the last 16 of their last three major tournament appearances, including losing 5-4 on penalties to Poland at Euro 2016 and Rodriguez said the team was intent on avoiding a repeat.
“We’ve practiced for the penalty shootout and almost everyone scored,” he said.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Christian Radnedge)