France boss Didier Deschamps is set to make no fewer than six changes for Les Bleus' final group-stage match but insisted that the objective is to secure top spot in Group C with a perfect record of three wins from three matches.
Tuesday, 26 June, 2018
FIFA World Cup 2018 Group C, Matchday 3
Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
Denmark - France (Kick-off at 16:00 CET)
With France qualified for the round of 16 by winning their first two matches, 2-1 against Australia and 1-0 against Peru, coach Didier Deschamps is set to make a raft of changes for Les Bleus' third and final group-stage clash against Denmark in Moscow on Tuesday.
Firsts for Mandanda, Kimpembe
'Keeper Steve Mandanda (Olympique de Marseille) and stopper Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain) are tipped to start in the rear-guard of a 4-4-2 - Deschamps' third tactical line-up in as many starts at the tournament - the former to make his first start at a major tournament and the latter making his first start in his third appearance for Les Bleus.
Meanwhile Olivier Giroud - who has scored France's last three goals against Denmark - will work up front with Antoine Griezmann, Deschamps' formation leaving no room for PSG star Kylian Mbappé. A solid four-man midfield with the pace, vision and passing of ex-Monaco star Thomas Lemar and ex-Rennes speedster Ousmane Dembélé on the flanks will be without the likes of Paul Pogba, the tireless N'Golo Kanté set to partner Sevilla's Steven N'Zonzi in front of the back four.
Objective: Top spot
While there has been no real suggestion that France would play for a draw - a result that would see both the French and the Danes progress, Deschamps was keen to dispel any possibility of that impression given by his choosing to ring the changes.
"There is absolutely no question of helping Denmark to get a point. Our objective is to secure top spot. I would never tell my team to play for the draw. We play to win," he declared in his pre-match press conference. "But I do have to take into account various factors concerning different individuals, like game time and yellow cards. It's also a chance to hand around a bit of game time and rotate the squad. Every player in the group deserves to play, even though I can't field everyone."
Shift through the gears
The dead rubber comes at a good time for France, whom many feel have not yet hit their straps in the competition.
"We've improved since the beginning of the tournament," explained captain Raphaël Varane. "We need to maintain our defensive solidity. But in attack, we can do our opponents more damage; we have the qualities to tear defences apart. We took a little while to get going but now we can focus on stepping it up in attack."
To do so, Les Bleus will need to best ex-LOSC stopper Simon Kjaer, while remaining wary of the goal threat posed by Girondins de Bordeaux livewire Martin Braithwaite.
Danemark: Schmeichel; Dalsgaard, Kjaer (c), Christensen, Larsen; Schöne, Delaney; Cornelius, Eriksen, Braithwaite; Jörgensen
France: S. Mandanda; Sidibé, Varane (c), Kimpembe, Hernandez; Dembélé, Nzonzi, Kanté, Lemar; Griezmann, Giroud