France boss Didier Deschamps is set to field a somewhat experimental line-up in Monday's friendly against Ireland, with likely starts for OL captain Nabil Fekir, OM captain Steve Mandanda and Sevilla midfielder Steven Nzonzi.
Monday, May 28, 2018
Stade de France, Paris
France - Republic of Ireland
Monday night's match at the Stade de France, the first of three international friendlies for Deschamps' men before they kick off their World Cup campaign against Australia in Kazan on June 16, is shaping up as a chance for the France boss to see some of his second-choice players or new faces in action before heading to Russia.
While fans are unlikely to see the likes of European champions Antoine Griezmann and Raphaël Varane, Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kanté and Hugo Lloris will all also be missing as Nabil Fekir joins fellow Ligue 1 Conforama star Kylian Mbappé in a front three on either side of Olivier Giroud.
Deschamps looks to run the rule over squad
"We have several objectives and I can't achieve all of them," said Deschamps, whose side faces Italy in Nice on Friday, June 1, before wrapping up their pre-tournament hit-outs with a friendly against the USA in Lyon on Saturday, June 9. "In the first two preparatory matches, which are pretty close together, the thing will be to get certain players back into the swing of things. I want to use a maximum number of players, which works slightly against the goal of getting players used to each other. But we will have plenty of training sessions as well.
"The ideal thing would be to have 23 players who can all play a full 90 minutes but that won't be possible. The team that I field in the final match, against the USA, will be pretty close to the team I'll be looking to start with in Russia."
UEFA Europa League finalist Steve Mandanda should get a rare start in goals, while Sevilla defensive midfielder Nzonzi, who would be earning his third cap in a just a second call-up to the squad, is tipped to play the holding role at the base of France's midfield.
Deschamps will be permitted six changes for the friendly and is likely to use them all, notably with left-back Benjamin Mendy, who is not yet at full match fitness following a lengthy ACL knee ligament injury.
France: Mandanda; Sidibé, Rami, Umtiti, Mendy; Nzonzi, Tolisso, Matuidi; Mbappé, Giroud, Fekir
Republic of Ireland: Doyle; Coleman, Duffy, Rice, Cunningham; O’Dowda, Alan Browne, Arter, McClean; Burke, Long