France v Switzerland: semi-final preview

France coach Gilles Eyquem says his side "keep improving" as they aim to reach a record eighth final when they play a well-prepared Switzerland team on Thursday in Senec.

France are aiming for their eighth final
France are aiming for their eighth final ©Sportsfile
  • France aiming to reach an record eighth WU19 EURO final, one more than Germany
  • Switzerland only team remaining in finals never to have lifted the trophy
  • Swiss have five of the players that beat France 2-1 in last year's U17 semis
  • No suspensions and all group-stage bookings have been rescinded
  • Watch live on Eurosport 2
  • Follow with @UEFAWomensEURO on Twitter and on Facebook using #WU19EURO
  • Thursday's other semi-final: Spain v Netherlands: 20:30CEST (Eurosport 1)
  • Final on Sunday in Senec

France coach Gilles Eyquem says his side "keep improving" as they aim to reach a record eighth UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship final when they play Switzerland on Thursday in Senec.

The Swiss are the only team left in the competition yet to lift the trophy but with the spine of the XI that defeated France in the WU17 semis a year ago in Iceland, and having been able to rest key players in their last group game with Spain, are well prepared.

  • What they say:

Gilles Eyquem, France coach
The team is in good shape. Maybe a bit tired after the last game, in the heat, I didn't make many changes but it's OK. The team have improved, that's their main quality – to keep improving.

Switzerland are a very good team with a lot of attacking qualities. We have to be particularly careful of Cinzia Zehnder, who has very good technical skills. I would have preferred to have won the first game, mainly to have been in the position Switzerland were in: resting players in their third game. But we've got through, we've kept improving and we're ready.

Nora Häuptle, Switzerland coach
France didn't start the tournament well but were able to raise their game and showed their ability against the Netherlands. We respect them but we're not afraid. We want to improve and develop every day.

We're not only playing for success but also for our education and playing philosophy. It's clear we're not happy about the result against Spain but we also rotated some players and gave them playing time. It's important to try to use your full 18 players and this was the focus in that game. You have to think what is important and we didn't need the three points.

In this tournament the mental and phiycal peaks are close together, it's a big demand on the players to play every three days at the highest level against the best players. To be able to give them rest is good for us. We closely examine, with GPS data, the load we put on the players and try to share the load out evenly.

  • Road to semi-finals
©Sportsfile

France
Qualifying round: Bosnia and Herzegovina 2-0, Faroe Islands 7-0, Czech Republic 6-0 (Group 2 winners)
Elite round: Portugal 3-0, Greece 6-0, Scotland 2-0 (Group 5 winners)
Group stage: Norway 0-1, Slovakia 6-0, Netherlands 2-1 (Group A winners)

Switzerland
Qualifying round: Greece 7-0, Georgia 23-0, Iceland 2-0 (Group 1 winners)
Elite round: Norway 2-2, Hungary 4-0, Russia 1-0 (Group 6 winners)
Group stage: Austria 4-0, Germany 4-2, Spain 0-5 (Group B runners-up)

  • Key factors

France improving
Les Bleuettes were given something of a rude awakening in their opening 1-0 defeat by Norway, but their reaction has been exemplary. With Marie-Antoinette Katoto's emergence and a certain degree of tactical tinkering, Gilles Eyquem's side have transformed into a formidable prospect.

After putting six past hosts Slovakia without reply, they flexed their muscles to oust the Netherlands from top spot in a decisive final group game, showing they are well and truly in competition mode for this semi-final.

©Sportsfile

Swiss options
This generation promises a bright future for Switzerland, and their adventure in Slovakia is not over yet. This team has a wealth of options to counter anything which is thrown at them, while their spirit is infectious.

A team who like to act rather than react, Switzerland coach Nora Häuptle is tapping into the success of a side made up of many of the country's Under-17 selection which went so close to glory in that competition a year ago.

  • Players to watch

France: Marie-Antoinette Katoto – Her hat-trick against Slovakia was just the tonic France side to restore belief. With her movement and reading of the game, Katoto can be expected to add to her four goals scored so far in Slovakia.

Switzerland: Géraldine Reuteler – Scored twice in the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship finals a year ago and while she may not yet have opened her account in Slovakia, Reuteler has more than ensured that her team-mates have done the business with essential and intelligent contribution.

  • Switzerland's Naja Furrer, Lara Jenzer, Géraldine Reuteler, Naomi Mégroz and Kim Dubs all played in a dramatic WU17 semi-final win against France last year in Iceland: watch highlights below.
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