The Switzerland captain is eager to go head-to-head with his Serie A opponent in Friday’s group game, while Steve von Bergen insists there is no set plan to stop Karim Benzema
Switzerland skipper Gokhan Inler is fired up for his “duel” with France midfielder Paul Pogba in Friday’s World Cup clash.
Les Bleus recorded a comfortable 3-0 win over Honduras in their opening game while Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side snatched three points in a dramatic 2-1 win over Ecuador.
Victory on Friday for either side would all-but ensure their place in the last 16 in Brazil, and Inler admits he is relishing the prospect of meeting Pogba on the international stage following their battles in Serie A for Napoli and Juventus, respectively, over the past two seasons.
“I’ve spoken a lot about him. I’ve said the same thing: he’s a huge talent and we’ve had a few meetings on the pitch in Italy,” Inler told reporters when asked about Pogba.
“He’s a nice guy and we’ve spoken to one another. He’s a very important player for France. It will be a hard duel and I think that the important thing is that you show respect when you go onto the pitch – and we both have that for each other.
“We were a bit nervous in the first half [against Ecuador] and it was not a good… from us. Ecuador were also playing well.
“In the days after this great victory, we have been talking about it. We believe in ourselves, our ambition and I think that after the first match the team is now more relaxed.
“But then again, France is going to be a big game, like a final, and we really want to deliver a top match.”Karim Benzema scored twice and forced an own goal in the win over Honduras but Switzerland defender Steve von Bergen has warned they cannot focus on stopping the Real Madrid star alone.
“Just focusing on him means forgetting about [Mathieu] Valbuena and [Antoine] Griezmann, and all the others,” said the Young Boys veteran.
“So there’s no anti-Benzema plan. He’s a world-class forward, he’s just won the Champions League, he’s a very good attacking player but he’s just one player among many other very good players.”
Switzerland moved up to sixth in the final Fifa Ranking prior to the tournament, while France slipped to 17th, but Von Bergen believes they deserve their place among the top-rated teams in the world.
“We always get asked about our ranking. It comes up a lot. I don’t even remember what number we are. But if we’re high up, it’s because we’ve deserved it.
“We’ve beaten a lot of great teams. We’ve been very consistent. That’s why we are where we are. But if the Fifa rankings are fair, or how they’re computed, I don’t know.”