France travel to Stade Josy Barthel on Saturday night to face bottom feeders Luxembourg in a Group A FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying match.
Luxembourg host France at Stade Josy Barthel on Saturday in what is a battle of the unequals in Group A of the World Cup qualifiers. France sit atop the group after four rounds with ten points, three clear of second-placed Netherlands, while the hosts are at the bottom with just a solitary point.
France started their campaign on a disappointing note as they were held to a draw on the road by Belarus. But they have won three games on the bounce since then, with the last of these victories being the crucial top of the table clash against Sweden, beating them 2-1 to secure a three-point lead.
Meanwhile, nothing much was expected out of minnows Luxembourg, who often make up the numbers in such competitions. However, they have given a good account of themselves up until now, losing out narrowly to Netherlands, Sweden and Bulgaria, while even grabbing a point on the road against Belarus.
The last meeting between the two sides took place six years ago, as France ran out 2-0 winners over Luxembourg at the same venue, with Phillipe Mexes and Yoann Gourcuff grabbing the goals. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at what could be another one-sided match for Les Blues.
Team News & Tactics
Luc Holtz has all of his first team players fit and available for the visit of Didier Deschamps’ men on Saturday. And the Luxembourg boss will intend to play with a typically defensive system to frustrate the visitors, getting men behind the ball and looking to grab a goal on the break.
The team have been no pushovers so far in the qualifying campaign, even though they have just one point to show for their efforts, and have conceded nine goals in the four games thus far. But they have also netted an impressive five times, with three of those goals coming from the boots of Aurelien Joachim.
At the back, the likes of Kevin Malget, Maxine Chanot and Enes Mahmutovic will be charged with keeping things tight at the back, while captain Mario Mutsch, Daniel Da Mota and Joachim will have to make do with the limited opportunities going forward in an attempt to get something out of the game.
Possible Starting XI (5-4-1): Schon; Jans, Malget, Chanot, Mahmutovic, Da Mota; Bohnert, Bensi, Philipps, Mutsch; Joachim
Didier Deschamps has made some notable exclusions from his squad for the latest round of international fixtures. Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane miss out due to injury, while the likes of Bacary Sagna, Moussa Sissoko and Anthony Martial have been left out due to erratic form in recent months.
There have been some deserved call ups too, none more so than AS Monaco’s teenage prodigy Kylian Mbappe, who has made such waves this season in attack. Tiemoue Bakayoko has also been called up to the senior squad for the first time after impressing for Monaco.
Deschamps has a wealth of options to choose from, and several young players, including Mbappe are in line to start at Stade Josy Barthel on Saturday. The onus, though, is likely to be on Antoine Griezmann and Kevin Gameiro, who have struck such a formidable partnership at Atletico Madrid this season.
Meanwhile, Dimitri Payet is likely to be the creative force for the side, with N’Golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi expected to be stationed in the centre of the park.
Possible Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Sidibe, Rami, Koscielny, Kurzawa; Kante, Matuidi; Mbappe, Griezmann, Payet; Gameiro
- France have won in each of their last 14 meetings with Luxembourg.
- Luxembourg have won just once in all of their with Les Blues with the sole victory coming in 1914 (5-4).
- Luxembourg have failed to win a single qualifying game in their last seven attempts (D1 L6).
- France are unbeaten in their World Cup qualifying campaign, winning their last three matches against Bulgaria, Netherlands and Sweden.
- Ten of France’s 16 wins over Luxembourg have been by a margin of three goals or more.
- France have lost just one of their last 17 international matches, with the sole loss coming at the hands of Portugal in the final of the European Championships last year.
Luxembourg 0-2 France
This is match that is as straightforward as it gets in the World Cup qualifiers for France. Luxembourg have prevailed over Les Blues just once in their history, and that solitary win came over 100 years ago.
The Red Lions have been minnows of European football for years now and have, in fact, managed to win just five games in the last five years. On the other hand, France are one of the powerhouses of European football, with Didier Deschamps having one of the most talented set of players at his disposal.
Thus, anything other than a win for France would be a real shocker. In fact, it will be a big surprise if the hosts manage to find the back of the net, despite scoring goals against Netherlands, Bulgaria and Belarus. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 win for Didier Deschamps’ men on Saturday.