France will be looking to end the group phase of the UEFA Nations League on a high when they face off against Sweden on Tuesday evening.
After having sealed a place in the UEFA Nations League Finals, France will be looking to wind up the group stages of the competition with a victory when they welcome Sweden to Stade de France in their final fixture of 2020.
The 0-2 defeat at home against Finland in a friendly encounter earlier this week seemed to have served as a wake-up call for Les Bleus as they went on to beat Portugal 1-0 to secure their place in the Nations League Finals. Following the win, Didier Deschamps’s side are sitting at the top of Group A3, with 13 points from five games.
Sweden, on the other hand, are rooted to the bottom of the group, having managed to collect just three points from five games so far. However, they head into the game on the back of an impressive 2-1 win against Croatia in their latest encounter. Janne Andersson’s side will need to better Croatia’s result against Portugal on Tuesday if they are to avoid relegation to League B.
The reverse fixture in the group, played in September earlier this year, saw France beat Sweden 1-0, courtesy a first-half strike from Kylian Mbappe. Ahead of their latest meeting on Tuesday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Following the withdrawals of Houssem Aouar and Nabil Fekir due to injuries, France also lost Wissam Ben Yedder, who tested positive for coronavirus. Kylian Mbappe missed the Portugal encounter due to an injury but is expected to be available against Sweden, as confirmed by manager Deschamps.
With qualification sealed for the Finals and the top spot in the group confirmed, the manager might look to rotate his troops and give some of his non-regulars a start when Sweden come visiting. Mike Maignan could be in line for his second international appearance for France, replacing captain Hugo Lloris in goal for the hosts.
Kurt Zouma, who has impressed for Chelsea this season, could feature from the start, partnering Presnel Kimpembe at the heart of Les Bleus’ defence. On either side of him, AS Monaco’s Ruben Aguilar and Lucas Digne could be set to feature.
N’Golo Kante, who was the match-winner for France against Portugal, is in line for a rest, meaning Steven Nzonzi could get the nod at the base of the midfield diamond formation. Corentin Tolisso, who hasn’t featured in either game for France so far during this break, could be handed a starting berth, with Moussa Sissoko also likely to get the nod.
Antoine Griezmann is likely to continue at the tip of the diamond, with the Barcelona superstar expected to support the strike partnership of Marcus Thuram and Mbappe.
Probable Lineup (4-1-2-1-2): Maignan; Aguilar, Zouma, Kimpembe, Digne; Nzonzi; Sissoko, Tolisso; Griezmann; Mbappe, Thuram
The visitors will be without the services of midfielder Albin Ekdal, who will serve a one-match suspension for accumulation of yellow cards. Apart from him, manager Janne Andersson does not have any other roster issues to contend with heading into the fixture against France.
The Blue and Yellows ought to line up in their usual 4-4-2 formation in front of Everton goalkeeper Robin Olsen. Victor Lindelof and Marcus Danielson, who was on the scoresheet against Croatia, ought to pair up at the heart of the Swedish defence, with the duo likely to be flanked by Mikael Lustig and Pierre Bengtsson on the right and left sides, respectively.
Emil Forsberg should start on the left side of the midfield four and act as the main source of creativity for the visitors, with Sebastian Larsson slotting in on the opposite flank. Kristoffer Olsson should hold on to his spot in the centre of the park, but will have a change of partners as Mattias Svanberg could step in for the suspended Ekdal.
Seasoned campaigner Marcus Berg should once again start in the two-pronged strikeforce alongside Juventus starlet Dejan Kulusevski, who was on target last time out. Alexander Isak will provide additional firepower from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Olsen; Lustig, Lindelof, Danielson, Bengtsson; Larsson, Olsson, Svanberg, Forsberg; Kulusevski, Berg
- This will be the 23rd meeting France and Sweden. Les Bleus have the upper-hand when it comes to head-to-head record, having racked up 11 wins, in comparison to Sweden’s six (D5).
- In the previous 16 clashes between the two nations, France have lost just twice, while winning nine (D5).
- There have been no goalless encounters between France and Sweden in over twenty years. The last time these two played out a 0-0 draw was back in 1998, in a friendly.
- Of their seven fixtures played in 2020, Sweden have lost five, winning the remaining two.
- France, on the other hand, have lost just one of their seven encounters in this calendar year (W5 D1).
Player to Watch
The 23-year-old made his debut for the France national team earlier this week against Finland and while the result may not have gone in the favour of his side, it was still a momentous occasion for Marcus Thuram. The Borussia Monchengladbach attacker has been in good form at club level, bagging 3 goals and 5 assists in 11 games so far.
The versatile attacker made a substitute appearance in the win against Portugal, but could be given a starting berth on Tuesday against Sweden. A first goal for his national team would be a fine way to cap off a memorable international break for Thuram.
France 1-0 Sweden
France recovered well from the shock loss to Finland earlier this week, as they eked out a narrow win over Portugal, which allows manager Didier Deschamps the opportunity to rest some of his star players.
As far as Sweden are concerned, they still have a slim chance of surviving the drop to League B, should they bag an upset win here and Croatia drop points. So, we can expect Janne Andersson to go with his strongest XI at Saint-Denis.
Even if France rotate heavily, the strength in depth and the quality that they possess within the squad should be enough for them to end the year on a winning note. The Hard Tackle predicts another narrow win for the 2018 World Cup winners on Tuesday night.