One of Vladimir Petkovic's first promises when he was appointed Switzerland coach was that his team would dominate possession even against top sides. He has struggled to put that ambitious philosophy into practice but finally achieved that it on Sunday as the Swiss enjoyed 59 percent of possession against hosts France in a goalless draw which guaranteed their place in the last 16.
Technically, it was a very accomplished performance by Switzerland, held together by an outstanding display from Granit Xhaka in midfield. The only frustration was that they were not more incisive in attack. For all their neat passing, they failed to get a shot on target and were again indebted to Yann Sommer at the end other for keeping the French at bay.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Yann Sommer, 9 -- Another excellent performance from Sommer, who has been beaten only once in three games, and that from a penalty. Two good saves from Paul Pogba early on changed the course of the game and he also foiled Andre-Pierre Gignac and Antoine Griezmann in the second half. Enjoyed a slice of luck when he was saved by his crossbar on a smashed close-range volley from Dimitri Payet.
DF Stephan Lichtsteiner, 7 -- The captain always seems to have something to argue about and even got stroppy with a linesman over a throw-in. But it was a generally good performance from Lichtsteiner, who was solid defensively and repeatedly got forward, putting in a couple of very dangerous crosses.
DF Fabian Schär, 8 -- Another solid display from a player who had looked decidedly shaky in the run-up to the tournament. Commanding in the air where he made some very important interceptions. He almost undid the good work with a needless handball near the end but Payet's free kick hit the wall.
DF Johan Djourou, 7 -- Regarded as the weak link before the tournament, he was generally sound except for one slip in midfield where he lost the ball to Griezmann and sparked a counter-attack. Looked comfortable on the ball.
DF Ricardo Rodriguez, 8 -- Strong both defensively and going forward, Rodriguez has improved with every game as the tournament has gone on. Slightly let down by one very poor free kick that led to a French counter-attack
MF Valon Behrami, 7 -- Played an important part in subduing Pogba after the French playmaker threatened to pull the Swiss apart single-handedly in the early stages. Also involved in a funny moment, bursting the football on a tackle against an onrushing Griezmann.
MF Granit Xhaka, 9 -- Unflappable on the ball, Xhaka stood out with his distribution and was the main reason Switzerland were able to dominate possession. Slightly hampered by a "Robben-esque" tendency to avoid using his right foot.
MF Xherdan Shaqiri, 7 -- A performance much closer to what he is capable of, though still lacking the one moment of inspiration that can turn a game. Linked up well with Lichtsteiner on the right and always lively, despite a tendency to slip over.
MF Blerim Dzemaili, 7 -- A tough role to play in the centre of the midfield because he tends to get bypassed as his teammates look for Lichtsteiner, Rodriguez and Shaqiri on the flanks. But he got through a lot of work pressing the French midfield and should have been awarded a penalty in stoppage time.
MF Ahmed Mehmedi, 7 -- Like Dzemaili, worked very hard in playing a supporting role in midfield and could also have been awarded a penalty. Missed a couple of chances to send Rodriguez on an overlapping run, preferring to cut inside himself.
FW Breel Embolo, 7 -- As expected, the Cameroon-born forward replaced misfiring and much-criticised Haris Seferovic. His strength and movement kept the French defenders occupied throughout, although ironically he did not get into as many scoring positions as Seferovic. Some useful work in defence
FW Haris Seferovic, 7 -- Replaced Embolo in the 79th minute.
MF Gelson Fernandes, NR -- Came on for Shaqiri to shore up the midfield.
DF Michael Lang, NR -- Brought on for Mehmedi in the 86th minute.