Patrick Muller felt Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry stood between Switzerland and a shock Euro 2004 win over France.
Zidane put the French in front and two clinical late strikes from Henry ended the Swiss' hopes after Johann Vonlanthen had equalised.
"We sensed we could do something special out there," Muller said.
"But the difference between the teams is Zidane and Henry. They only need a chance and then that's it, they've made the difference," the defender added.
Switzerland coach Kobi Kuhn added: "France were the best team in the group.
"They didn't play their best in the first two matches but now they have improved
and they are more complete."
PSV Eindhoven striker Vonlanthen, 18, overtook Wayne Rooney as the youngest player in the tournament's history to score.
"It was something great, beautiful. But it would have been better if we'd won the game," he said.
"I didn't go on to the pitch thinking about the record, the boss gave me the chance to play and I had the fortune to score.
"We played really well to get back level. Then we became unbalanced due to Henry's individual skills."