France will be out to improve on their narrow win over Australia as they face off against Peru in their second group stage match of the World Cup, at 14:00 CET in Ekaterinburg on Thursday.
Thursday, 21 June, 2018
FIFA World Cup, Group C, Matchday 2
Ekaterinburg Arena, Ekaterinburg
France - Peru (Kick-off at 17:00 CET)
Les Bleus may have secured a win in their opener against Australia, but the message coming out the France camp since the 2-1 victory on Saturday have centred on lifting their game in order to go as far as possible in the competition - starting with Thursday's clash with Peru.
"We had a successful start, taking all three points, but the way we did it needs improvement. We're talking about it a lot and trying to make progress so we can get stronger," declared France captain and 'keeper Hugo Lloris, who will earn his 100th cap for France against the South American side. "If we don't lift our game, it will be very difficult."
Following the win over Australia, France boss Didier Deschamps had no complaints about his backline - other than Samuel Umtiti's hand-ball brainfade that gifted the Socceroos their goal - with Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez acquitting themselves well on the flanks despite only recently breaking into the team.
Deschamps: 'Do better'
However, counter-intuitively, it was in attack - where Les Bleus boast a wealth of world-class talent - that the machine struggled to run smoothly.
"It was clear to see that we had some problems and some holes in our attacking play," said the France boss, who is tipped to hand a start to Olivier Giroud - benched for the first game - at the apex of a 4-2-3-1. "Finding out the whys and wherefores of our first match is all well and good, but above all we need to find a way to do better."
A lot of pressure for improving France's play going forward falls on the shoulders of Antoine Griezmann, who is tipped to play just behind Giroud in a three-man attacking midfield with speedster Kylian Mbappé to his right and - in a move likely intended to complement Griezmann's creativity with a strong physical presence - workhorse Blaise Matuidi on the left.
A win will all but qualify France for the round of 16, but over and above the result, Les Bleus are looking to get their motor running to power a bid to go all the way. To this end, Lloris is looking to France's second match in the 2014 World Cup - a 5-2 hammering of Swizterland with Giroud and Griezmann combining to devastating effect - as a benchmark.
"We need to take inspiration from that match," he explained. "Our objective is now to get stronger and stronger."
France:Lloris (c); Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, L. Hernandez; Kanté, Pogba; Mbappé, Griezmann, Matuidi; Giroud
Peru: Gallese; Advincula, C. Ramos, Alb. Rodriguez, Trauco; Aquino, Yotun; Carrillo, Farfan, Cueva; Guerrero (c)