Stade de France
26 March 2015, 20.00 GMT
France hosts Brazil in Paris on Thursday in a friendly, but a contest of two top countries in the world means that it wouldn’t be taken lightly by either sides.
The match will be played at the Stade de France, and it is no wonder that it has been built up to Brazil coach Dunga “exorcising his demons” at the ground by leading his side to a win. Dunga captained Brazil in 1998 when his side were defeated by a “Zinedine Zidane-inspired France” in the FIFA World Cup. Interestingly, his counterpart Didier Deschamps captained the France side that lifted the cup.
Team News & Tactics
As hosts of next year’s European Championship, France don’t have a lot of competitive fixtures coming their way – something that helps the national team so much, given they spend most of the year playing for different clubs in different countries. Naturally, they will take the opportunity of playing last year’s World Cup hosts very seriously.
In terms of team news, Deschamps will be without Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, who has been sidelined for several weeks with a hamstring injury. France captain Hugo Lloris will be a big miss for his side as he has suffered a knee injury recently. Other than that, the usual are all fit to play the part.
Nabil Fekir, the sensational 21 year old Lyon attacker received a deserved call-up to the side after his incredible performances recently which have helped his side be in the running for a title this season. Marseille’s Dimitri Payet continued to hold a place in the side as he has been a consistent performer for the Phoceens this season. His team-mate Steve Mandanda is another player who was selected and has been sensational for Bielsa’s side this season and has also been tipped to keep in place of the injured Lloris.
Deschamps has a nice problem at the moment with Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud and Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Greizmann all in goal-scoring form. Dimitri Payet, Mathieu Valbuena and Nabil Fekir will be vying for other attacking roles. It will be a bit of a headache for the manager but its a problem you’d rather have than not.
Needless to say, France face an extremely talented side in Brazil and it will be very interesting to see how Deschamps sets up his team for the match and whether they can get something out of it. Despite it being only a friendly, there is no doubt that it will do great for the morale of the home side to get a win in this match and be confident of their chances for the upcoming Euros.
Probable Line-up (4-5-1): Mandanda; Evra, Varane, Koscielny, Jallet; Matuidi, Guilavogui, Sissoko, Valbuena, Griezmann; Benzema
Like mentioned before, this will be more than just a friendly for Brazil coach Dunga and he will want to get the best out of his side and ensure his side wins this game and avenges the sore taste that the setting foot in the very stadium will cause.
Brazil will be captained by Neymar, and Dunga will hope that this captaincy brings the best out of the player. In fact, he said recently, “The more responsibilities he has, the more he will progress”.
The coach gave a call-up to Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho upon being elected Brazil’s coach as the player put on some terrific performances in the pre-season and the 22 year old has managed to keep his place in the squad since. Coutinho’s form dipped in the middle, but he is at his threatening best and would hope he gets enough game-time to make a difference for his country and cement his name. Dunga has also called up winter Arsenal signing Gabriel Paulista to the squad and the centre-back will be eager for his first match with the senior side.
Since losing the 2014 World Cup quarter-final to Germany, France have gone unbeaten in their six friendly outings, an impressive run which include wins over Spain, Portugal and Sweden. Therefore despite Brazil’s own impressive form since the embarrassing World Cup exit – which includes six straight wins where they’ve scored 14 goals and conceding just once – Dunga will have to be cautious. Brazil will know that they will have to be on the front foot to get a result from the game. They will also need to ensure they don’t leave any spaces for the French attack to exploit. The likes of Griezmann and Valbuena can find small holes and use it to their advantage. The visitors will need a good balance in attack and defence.
Probable starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Jefferson; Danilo, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Gustavo, Fernandinho; Oscar, Willian, Robinho; Neymar
- Benzema scored the only goal the last time these two sides met at the Stade de France in 2011
- There have been five meetings between the two sides since Brazil’s World Cup loss and four of those have been won by France.
Player to watch out for
Benzema has 13 La Liga goals in 26 appearances, and 19 in all competitions this term. Clearly, the former Lyon player has been in great form and is his side’s key man. France would hope he continues his prolific form and helps get the hosts a favorable result.
France 2 Brazil 1
While both the sides have been on an impressive international run, expect the home nation to come out on top, given the form of their attackers and the fact that they will be encouraged by the home support.