Didier Deschamps will have one final chance to take look at his France setup, when they take on Bulgaria on Tuesday in the final friendly before UEFA Euro 2020.
With just over one week remaining before the start of the European Championships, current world champions France will be hoping to make the final few experiments, when they play hosts to Bulgaria on Tuesday, in an international friendly.
The match will be played at Stade de France in Saint-Denis, just a few days before the French squad travel to Munich for their first group game against Germany. Les Bleus have been drafted in the group of death involving not only the Germans but also defending champions Portugal and the unpredictable Hungary.
France started their warm-up with a 3-0 victory over Wales last week, with the attacking trio of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele finding the back of the net.
Their opponents Bulgaria, on the other hands, kick-start the summer with a 1-1 draw with Slovakia and a narrow 1-0 defeat to Russia in a friendly. This one will be their last game before they resume their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign with a game with Italy in early September.
Bulgaria have secured just one point from their first three matches in the qualifying campaign, but a potential upset over France could go a long way in helping them boost their morale for the Italy game. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this friendly at Stade de France this midweek.
Team News & Tactics
It will be interesting to see how Didier Deschamps lines up his side in this friendly. He opted for quite a strong lineup in the win over Wales, but might make a few changes here and there to keep the entire troop fresh heading into the tournament.
One of the players expected to make their return is Olivier Giroud, replacing Karim Benzema as the leader of the French attack. He is likely to be accompanied by Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann in France’s free-flowing offensive trifecta.
Deschamps, though, could be tempted to bring on Ousmane Dembele and Kingsley Coman at half-time, knowing they might play a key role in the tournament with their pace and ability to provide the spark out wide.
In midfield, N’Golo Kante is back in contention after enjoying an extended time off due to his participation in the Champions League final. Getting him up to speed could be vital for France’s chances, so expect the Chelsea midfielder to replace Corentin Tolisso in France’s midfield.
Kante will most likely be accompanied by Paul Pogba and Adrien Rabiot, with the latter likely to operate in the deepest role. It will be interesting to see how Deschamps plays in midfield due to their lack of a proper number six other than Moussa Sissoko.
Finally, in the defensive department, Deschamps might be tempted to deploy Jules Kounde alongside Raphael Varane at the heart of the four-man backline while Leo Dubois and Lucas Digne are tipped to replace Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez in the full-back positions. There might not be a change in goal, though, as Hugo Lloris is the team captain.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Lloris; Dubois, Varane, Kounde, Digne; Kante, Pogba, Rabiot; Griezmann; Giroud, Mbappe
Unlike France, Bulgaria do not have too many choices, especially after losing Kristiyan Malinov through injury, in the defeat to Russia. Petar Vitanov was his desired substitute after just ten minutes and the midfielder will now return his place in the side this midweek.
Vitanov, alongside Ivaylo Chochev, are going to play a vital role in the second line of press for Bulgaria, alongside the two wingbacks in Ivan Turitsov and Momchil Tsvetanov. These four will be crucial in protecting the back three.
Speaking of which, Bulgaria are more than likely to adopt a defensive-oriented game, with the backline staying deep, trying to frustrate the French attack. The onus will primarily be on the broad shoulders of captain Vasil Bozhikov, with additional support from Andrea Hristov and the young Valentin Antov.
Bulgaria’s tactics should also see them appear heavily reliant on Kirli Despodov and Dominik Antov, although coach Yasen Petrov does have the option of Atanas Iliev and Dimitar Iliev if required. The Bulgarian attack, meanwhile, will primarily be led by Andrey Galabinox, although the Ilievs, as well as Georgi Minchev as interesting alternatives.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Mihaylov; A. Hristov, Antov, Bozhikov; Turitsov, Chochev, Vitanov, Tsvetanov; Despodov, Yankov; Minchev
- Bulgaria have an excellent record against France in head to head affairs, winning eight times in 22 outings, with Les Bleus winning just ten games.
- The last meeting between these two sides came in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in October 2017, with France securing a narrow 1-0 victory thanks to an early goal from Blaise Matuidi.
- France have only been beaten once in their last 19 games across all competitions, failing to win in just three other games.
- Olivier Giroud has scored 44 goals in 107 appearances for France. He is just seven goals away from beating Thierry Henry’s record of scoring the most goals for Les Bleus.
- Bulgaria have not won a single game since November 2019, when they beat Czech Republic in UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers, thanks to a goal from Vasil Bozhikov.
Player to Watch
Although Antoine Griezmann and Karim Benzema are vital players for France, the nation’s fate in this tournament is largely going to depend on the prowess of Kylian Mbappe. The young forward has only grown in stature over the past few years and is now arguably France’s best attacker.
His pace on the break, coupled with the ability to drift past defenders at will are valued assets for Didier Deschamps. It will also be important for Mbappe to finish the preparation on a strong note. Hence, a good performance against Bulgaria could go a long way in boosting his confidence before the first game against Germany just over a week from now.
France 3-0 Bulgaria
France are arguably the most complete side in the European Championships this year. Their incredible balance and quality have been reflected in their performances not only in major competitions but also in the friendly. The Hard Tackle, therefore, expects another comfortable win for Les Bleus, up against a Bulgarian side that usually struggle to cause any mischief.