France Preview – French Firepower Means No Surrender
World Cup 2014
Having seemingly left the trouble-makers behind, how far can this French team go in Brazil spearheaded by Benzema?
France have won three and drawn one of their warm-up games, earning an impressive 2-0 win over Holland in the Stade the France back in March. That was before big wins against Norway and Jamaica that came either side of a draw with Paraguay.
Karim Benzema scored a brace in their 8-0 thumping of Jamaica and the second in their win over the Dutch.
The Real Madrid striker has now scored six in his last six appearances following a 16-month goal drought
at international level prior to his current hot streak.
The French threatened to put Spain into the play-offs after they held the World Champions to a 1-1 draw in Madrid but couldn’t repeat the trick back in Paris as Pedro scored the only goal of the game to earn the visitors a crucial three points.
France had to make do with second spot and the play-off place that came with it then and looked set to lose out on a place in Brazil after losing 2-0 in Ukraine before completing a remarkable turnaround by winning 3-0 in the return leg, with Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho scoring twice.
Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery withdrew only last week with a back injury and will be a huge loss. Those unfamiliar with social media may be unaware that Samir Nasri failed to make the squad, resulted in a foul-mouthed tirade against Deschamps from Nasri’s girlfriend – Anara Atanes – on Twitter. His Manchester City club mate Gael Clichy was also left out but took it more graciously.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Stephane Ruffier (Marseille), Mickael Landreau (Bastia).
Defenders: Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle), Lucas Digne (Paris St-Germain) Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny, Bacary Sagna (both Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (Porto), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid).
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye, Blaise Matuidi (both Paris St-Germain), Rio Mavuba (Lille), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille).
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Remy Cabella (Montpellier), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad), Loic Remy (Newastle, on loan from QPR).
Despite their lacklustre showing in qualifying and a failure to secure a seeded berth, France have been given one of the easier groups as they face the lowest ranked teams from both CONCACAF and CONEMBOL to reach the tournament in Honduras and Ecuador respectively.
It looks as though the group should be a straight race between seeds Switzerland and France then,
15 June, France v Honduras, Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre, 20:00
20 June, Switzerland v France, Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, 20:00
25 June, Ecuador v France, Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro, 21:00
Odds of 4/5 to top the standings in Group E ahead of a focused and resolute Switzerland,would fill me with absolutely no confidence in the French and looks to be best kept clear of.
At 13/8 to finish at the head of his nation’s goalscoring charts an in-form Benzema looks a fantastic price to lead the way for a side who have flattered to deceive far too often for it to be mere coincidence at this point