France boss Didier Deschamps knows his side have to get a result against Austria to ease the danger of relegation to UEFA Nations League B - while dealing with an extensive injury list that has complicated preparations for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
UEFA Nations League Matchday 5
Stade de France, Paris
France - Austria
- Kick-off at 21:00 CET (18:45 GMT)
Despite being reigning World Champions, France are in a sticky spot in the UEFA Nations League. With two losses and two draws from four matches, Les Bleus sit at the foot of League A's Group 1 and need to take all three points against Austria in Paris on Thursday night - as well as another three against Denmark on Sunday - to avoid being sent down to League B.
Stick to the plan
While France obviously have a wealth of top-notch players, their current injury list is extensive. It includes the likes of Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba, Presnel Kimpembe, Hugo Lloris, Théo Hernandez, Adrien Rabiot and Boubacar Kamara, but Deschamps clearly feels his objectives can still be reached.
"It is the search for performance through content and results. I chose the 23 players present, I have confidence in them," said the France boss, who could hand maiden caps to Ligue 1 Uber Eats stars Benoît Badiashile and Youssouf Fofana given the ravaged state of the squad. "If the first objective - to win in order not to be relegated to League B of the Nations League - is achieved, the second - in this case the observation of the new players - will also be achieved."
The France boss will have plenty of fully fit stars on hand, notably Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann and the talismanic Olivier Giroud across a front three, with the indefatigable N'Golo Kanté available in the middle of the park. Whether Deschamps opts for a three- or five-man defence remains to be seen but what is clear is that, given the quality in his squad, he will always have something of a headache selecting sides.
"These are our last two games before the huge challenge that awaits us in November," he explained. "The situation today will not be the same as it will be in two months' time, from a sporting point of view. We want all the players to be available and in full possession of their assets. There are always choices to be made. This is my role and I know that in a player's career, a World Cup means a lot."
France: Maignan; Varane, Badiashile, Koundé; Clauss, Y. Fofana, Tchouaméni, F. Mendy; Griezmann, Giroud, Mbappé
Austria: Lindner; Alaba, Lainer, Friedl, Posch; Sabitzer, Schlager, Baumgartner, Seiwald; Arnautovic, Gregoritsch