Predict the XI: Arsenal hot shot set to lead France’s line
With two imposing wins in their first two Group E World Cup games, France are attracting plenty of betting fans as the knockout stages approach.
Three points ahead of fellow qualification-hunters Switzerland and Ecuador, and with the added sweetner of a massive six-goal head start in the goal difference stakes, Didier Deschamps could choose to get some of his bench-players involved when his men face the South Americans.
We try to solve that particular Rubik’s cube with our predicted XI below, in a game the French are 4/6 to win:
It’s at the back that the former Chelsea player had the most decisions to make, with Patrice Evra a booking away from suspension and three of the four in-situ centre-backs struggling with injury or illness.
Hugo Lloris will captain the side from between the sticks, with Lucas Digne likely replacing Evra to spare the Manchester United man a booking.
Mamadou Sakho, Laurent Koscielny and Raphael Varane are the affected centre backs, with the Real Madrid man’s stomach bug picked to clear in time for him to partner fully-fit Eliaquim Mangala. Mathieu Debuchy will start at right-back.
Yohan Cabaye is unavailable through suspension and, like Evra, Paul Pogba is at risk of one. With the cultivation of a winning mentality so important at these finals though Deschamps is not likely to rotate too many other of his players after such a defensive shake up.
The Juve star is therefore expected to partner Blaise Matuidi in midfield, with Rio Mavuba completing Deschamps’ preferred three-man midfield.
In the forward line, red-hot Karim Benzema will continue to start with Mathieu Valbuena and Olivier Giroud making up the tripod.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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