Next stop: Russia
A week out from their World Cup opener against Australia, Les Bleus are set to put the finishing touches to their preparations as they take on the USA in a friendly at Groupama Stadium in Lyon on Saturday night.
Saturday, June 9, 2018
Groupama Stadium, Lyon
France - United States of America (kick-off at 21:00 CET)
France have been in excellent form in their pre-World Cup preparations, claiming successive friendly wins over Ireland (2-0) and Italy (3-1), as coach Didier Deschamps ran the rule over his squad and tried a number of tactical variations.
However, Saturday evening's clash against the USA should see the Les Bleus coach field a line-up extremely close to the one that will start the World Cup campaign against Australia in a week's time.
Deschamp: 'Improve in many areas'
"It is meant to be very close to our preferred starting line-up, but it won't necessarily be exactly the same," said the France boss, who has tried two main tactical variations - a diamond midfield 4-4-2 with Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappé up front and a 4-3-3 with Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembélé across the front - in the lead-up to the tournament.
"We can always do better. Above all we have to hang onto this capacity to put our opponents under the kosh and create scoring chances. We can improve in many areas," said Deschamps, looking to use this clash with the USA - in a rebuilding phase after missing out on a place in Russia - to give his likely starting line-up a chance to get comfortable in match conditions. "The two most important phases of play are when you switch from offence to defence, and we’re still a bit raw there. But in the other direction, we're doing well. We just need to get a bit more clinical with our finishing."
Pogba playing for his place
Deschamps is tipped to go with his 4-4-2 formation against the USA, once again playing star forward Antoine Griezmann in a number ten role behind the strikers. Meanwhile, Paul Pogba is set to start in midfield looking to cement his place in the team after a poor showing against Italy opened him up to pressure from the excellent Corentin Tolisso.
In defence, Deschamps is tipped to field a full-strength line-up of Djibril Sidibé, Raphaël Varane, Samuel Umtiti and Benjamin Mendy for the first time after a year of various injury problems, with N'Golo Kanté as holding midfield screen and Blaise Matuidi working box to box.
A notable presence in the USA line-up is Timothy Weah - the son of Liberian president and former world footballer of the year George Weah - who, like his father did, plays for Paris Saint-Germain. The pacey 19-year-old, who was born in New York city, has represented the USA at every youth level and should earn his fourth cap playing wide on the right of coach Dave Sarachan's 4-1-4-1 formation.
France: Lloris (c); Sidibé, Varane, Umtiti, Mendy; Pogba, Kanté, Matuidi; Griezmann; Giroud, Mbappé
United States of America: Steffen; Yedlin, Miazga, Parker, Robinson; Trapp; Weah, Adams, McKennie, Green; Wood