Didier Deschamps must have been having a bit of a laugh when he said France were the underdogs going into their FIFA World Cup 2014 Group E game against Switzerland, owing to the latter's much superior world ranking. Because, on the evidence of what transpired in another goalfest of a football match at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, France will soon start to be called one of the favourites not just to go through the group stages, but to go all the way and win the title.
In an attacking display of class, pace and ridiculous power, France tore Switzerland to shreds to walk away with an authoritative 5-2 victory and all but book their place in the last 16.
France's two brilliant strikers – Olivier Giroud and Karim Benzema – were the stars of the evening in Salvador, grabbing a goal each, while also setting up a few, with Blaise Matuidi, Mathieu Valbuena and Moussa Sissoko also adding their names in the France goalscoring party.
Blerim Dzemaili and Granit Xhaka got late consolation goals for Switzerland, but it did little to raise their spirits, which will need to be at their most positive when they play their final group game against Honduras.
It was a tale of woe for the Swiss from minute one, and football from dreamland for France. Every time France moved forward, a goal looked like being in the offing, with Didier Dechamps' decision to bring in Giroud from the start proving to be a masterstroke.
All of the French forward-thinking players were in the mood, with Karim Benzema making his intentions clear with an early strike from range which just went high. However, it did not take too long for this vibrant France side to take the lead, with the opening goal coming in the 17th minute.
Giroud won a corner after his nice low cross from the left had to be cleared by Johan Djourou, with the striker then leaping over the Switzerland defence to power home a brilliant header past the despairing dive of Diego Benaglio to score France's 100th World Cup finals goal.
Switzerland, who clearly struggled after losing their first-choice centre-back Steve Von Bergen to injury early in the game, were extremely sloppy as well, time and again giving the ball away in their own half, and it was via that route that France got their second goal, 66 seconds after scoring the first. Karim Benzema pounced on a poor pass from Valon Behrami, before slipping in the marauding Matuidi, who slotted the ball past Benaglio at the near post.
Switzerland, a little shell-shocked by the one-two punch which also left them dazed and confused, had a decent chance to make it 2-1, but Xherdan Shaqiri's shot, which looked like it was headed into the bottom corner was wonderfully tipped around the post by Hugo Lloris.
It only went from bad to worse for Switzerland from that point, with the No.6 ranked team in the world conceding a penalty. Karim Benzema, playing on the right with Giroud in the central striker's role, went down under a daft challenge by Djourou, who did not need to make any attempt at taking the ball away with the situation seemingly under the defender's control.
Benzema himself stepped up to take the penalty, but Benaglio guessed right and made a nice save. Yohan Cabaye, though, was there on hand to jump on the rebound, but the midfielder fired his volley high with an empty net gaping.
However, that miss mattered little in the overall scheme of things, with France getting their third goal five minutes before halftime. It was a classic, ruthless and perfect counter-attack, with Benzema, after receiving the ball off a cleared Switzerland corner, passing the ball to Raphael Varane, who picked out Giroud in space. The Arsenal striker stormed forward down the left, before squaring perfect pass for Valbuena to tap-in from three yards and make it an emphatic game, set and match for France, with a couple of bonus goals added in the second half.
The first of those came in the 67th minute as Benzema latched onto a nice over-the-top ball from substitute Paul Pogba, who had been dropped to the bench for Sissoko, but came in for Giroud on the hour, before applying a nice swivel finish in the 67th minute.
Six minutes later, France were 5-we-are-in-dreamland-0 ahead, with Sissoko providing a wonderful finish from an acute angle off an assist from Benzema.
Switzerland had been left frustrated time and again before those two France goals, with a few long-range efforts not troubling the Lloris, while leaving themselves open to the counter against a buzzing French side, who picked them apart with ridiculous ease.
However, the Swiss would have their say, albeit a little too late, with Dzemaili firing in a low freekick past Lloris from 30 yards, before Xhaka finished nicely off a pass from Gohhan Inler, to at least restore some seriously hurt pride.