Having already qualified for the knockout rounds, France will look to wind off the group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a victory over Denmark.
Group C leaders France will go head to head against qualifying hopefuls Denmark at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow in their final group stage encounter on Tuesday.
Having beaten Australia 2-1 in their opening game, Les Bleus edged past Peru in their last encounter, winning 1-0 and by doing so, sealing their berth in the Round of 16. And, manager Didier Deschamps will be hoping that his side carry the momentum into Tuesday’s game and maintain their 100% record in Russia.
Denmark, on the other hand, were held to a 1-1 draw by Australia in their second group fixture, after they had registered a narrow 1-0 win over Peru in their first fixture. Currently second place in Group C standings, the Danes would go through to the next phase if they manage to get a single point on Tuesday, or will have to depend on the result of the contest between Australia and Peru on the same day.
Team News and Tactics
William Kvist remains absent for Age Hareide’s men going into the crunch clash, after he was stretchered off in their tournament opener against Peru. Yussuf Poulsen will miss out as he serves out a one-match suspension as well. Other than the duo the Denmark manager is unlikely to make any significant changes in the side that was held by Australia last week.
Kasper Schmeichel has been one of Denmark’s better performers in Russia and should continue between the sticks on Tuesday. No changes are expected to the back four comprising of Henrik Dalsgaard and Jens Stryger Larsen as the full-backs and captain Simon Kjaer partnering up with Chelsea starlet Andreas Christensen in the centre.
The Danish defence has been solid in the recent past, but will have a difficult time against a versatile French attack. In the middle of the park, Thomas Delaney and Lasse Schone are expected to take up the two midfield pivot positions and look to disrupt their fellow Europeans from settling into a passing rhythm.
Creator-in-chief Christian Eriksen will resume duties in the No.10 role. Having scored in the previous game, the playmaker will be hoping to add more to his tally and fire his side to the next round. Supporting him out on the flanks will be the experienced Martin Braithwaite on the right side in place of the suspended Poulsen and Pione Sisto on the left.
Upfront, striker Nicolai Jorgensen hasn’t been able to deliver the goods for the Danish Dynamite so far in his two appearances. So, there could be be a change in the offing with Hareide giving a shot to the young and talented Kasper Dolberg in order to provide some pace at the top.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Dalsgaard, Kjaer, Christensen, Larsen; Schone, Delaney; Braithwaite, Eriksen, Sisto; Dolberg
Defensive mainstay Samuel Umtiti is a major doubt for Les Bleus, as he is struggling with a knee injury, which could force manager Deschamps into a change. The France boss might also look to consider giving some of his reserves a go on Tuesday, with qualification already achieved.
Captain Hugo Lloris will continue between the sticks for the French against Denmark. Monaco right-back Djibril Sidibe, who has dropped down the pecking order behind Benjamin Pavard, could be in for a start on Tuesday, while Lucas Hernandez is expected to continue at left-back.
Raphael Varane will start at the heart of the defence and partnering him in place of the injured Umtiti should be PSG defender Presnel Kimpembe.
N’Golo Kante will start at the base of the three-man midfield, looking to negate Christian Eriksen’s influence in the attacking half of the pitch. He is likely to be supported by Corentin Tolisso, who did not feature against Peru, while Paul Pogba, who has been impressive in the tournament so far, is expected to retain his spot.
Upfront, Kylian Mbappe could be given a breather despite scoring the winner against Peru, with Florian Thauvin likely to get a look-in on the right side of the attacking trident. Thomas Lemar might also get a chance to impress out on the left flank, with Antoine Griezmann set to spearhead the attack.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Lloris; Sidibe, Varane, Kimpembe, Hernandez; Tolisso, Kante, Pogba; Thauvin, Griezmann, Lemar;
- France and Denmark have clashed against each other on 13 occasions previously, with the former prevailing on eight occasions, while the latter have won 4.
- The two European nations have previously met twice at the FIFA World Cup, coincidentally in the final group games on both occasions. France beat Denmark 2-1 in 1998, while the Danes won 2-0 four years later.
- Denmark have lost four of their previous five encounters against fellow European nations in the World Cup, with the aforementioned victory against France being the only win.
- Olivier Giroud has scored each of France’s last three goals against Denmark, most recently netting a brace in a 2-1 win in 2015.
- Kylian Mbappe could become the first teenager to score in more than one World Cup match since England’s Michael Owen did so in 1998. He would join an exclusive list of the teenagers who scored multiple World Cup goals featuring the legendary Pele (6), Edmund Conen (4), Manuel Rosas (2), Jose Altafini (2) and Owen (2).
Player to Watch
Despite all the criticism and the negative press surrounding him, the Manchester United midfielder has made his presence felt in Russia with some impressive displays so far. Having played an important role in the win over Australia, Pogba was at the centre of things for Les Bleus against the Peruvians as well, playing a crucial hand in the lead-up to Mbappe’s winner.
On Tuesday, the 25-year-old will hope to build up on a solid start that he has had and build momentum, as his team gears up for the knockout stages.
Denmark 1-1 France
France, despite their obvious quality, haven’t yet been able to hit top gears in Russia. The manager is likely to ring in a few changes, but given their bench-strength and quality, they will still be a difficult prospect to go up against.
The Danes also haven’t been able to get their attacking contingent firing, but considering how solid they can be at the back, they are likely to make life hard for the French forwards on Tuesday.
A draw at the Luzhniki Stadium will be enough for Denmark to confirm progression to the Last 16 and also for France to confirm their status as the Group C winners. And, a 1-1 stalemate is what we predict will be the outcome of a tightly-contested encounter between the two European nations on Tuesday.