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Predict the XI: Arsenal hot shot set to lead France’s line

| 25.06.2014

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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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.