France look to put their Euros disappointment behind and face a new challenge with the FIFA World Cup qualifiers when they face Bosnia & Herzegovina.

France are still reeling from their shock Euros exit at the hands of Switzerland despite being overwhelming favourites to win the tournament. Having taken the strongest possible squad to the continental tournament, the world champions could not progress beyond the Round of 16 and will be looking for improvements from here on.

Didier Deschamps will now focus his attention towards qualifying for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar next year, as France will go all guns blazing to retain their title. Deschamps has made some changes to his squad for the upcoming qualifiers against Bosnia, Ukraine and Finland. While there are notable omissions, new faces have surfaced to balance the squad.

France have begun their qualifying campaign in decent fashion. The first set of games took place at the end of March, as the French recorded two wins and a draw to lead Group D. Those victories came against Kazakhstan and Bosnia, while Deschamps’ side managed an entertaining draw against Ukraine who sit four points behind in second place.

Bosnia & Herzegovina are in a difficult position heading into this particular clash with France. Currently fifth in Group D, they have one point from two games. The side hasn’t won a competitive or non-competitive contest since November 2019, which probably slims down the chances of a shock victory over the world champions.

A chunk of that terrible run of form was overseen by former manager Dusan Bajevic, who endured an eight-game winless run. However, since the appointment of Ivaylo Petev, the new manager has helped the team secure draws against Montenegro, Costa Rica and Finland. The new boss will be hoping to break the hoodoo and march towards an elusive victory for Bosnia.

Team News & Tactics

France

Anthony Martial has received a surprise call up into the squad despite only returning from a injury recently. Olivier Giroud misses out, although Deschamps has offered the former Chelsea star some hope for the future. Moussa Diaby, Aurelien Tchouameni, Theo Hernandez and Jordan Veretout have received their first call-ups to the national side, although their involvement from the start against Bosnia is questionable.

Deschamps’ decision to call up several first-timers could have been dictated by injuries to several of his squad regulars. The likes of Ousmane Dembele, Benjamin Pavard, Adrien Rabiot and Lucas Hernandez are all out of the team, while N’Golo Kante’s ankle troubles could keep him out of the Bosnia game.

Dayot Upamecano is also ruled out after being taken off at half-time with a thigh problem while playing for Bayern Munich this past weekend. However, even when fit, the defender would still be behind Raphael Varane and Presnel Kimpembe in the pecking order.

Deschamps will likely scrap a back-three, which had consequences against Switzerland and revert to his prefered back-four against Bosnia. With the aforementioned central defensive duo, Everton star Lucas Digne and Sevilla’s versatile defender Jules Kounde could take up full-back roles. Hugo Lloris will be the side’s goalkeeper.

In the absence of Kante, Bayern’s Corentin Tolliso could replace the Chelsea man and start alongside Paul Pogba in midfield. Kylian Mbappe, Kingsley Coman and Antoine Griezmann will all start in attacking roles behind the rejuvenated Karim Benzema, who remains Deschamps’ preferred star in the striker role.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Kounde, Varane, Kimpembe, Digne; Tolisso, Pogba, Mbappe, Griezmann, Coman; Benzema

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Ivaylo Petev has selected a fairly strong squad for the next round of qualifiers starting with France. Experienced heads such as Edin Dzeko, Miralem Pjanic and Sead Kolasinac are all present and are expected to start the game against the world champions.

However, one player who may be out of favour now could be right-back Darko Todorovic. It could be due to the new system opted by the manager that deploys a back three and wing-backs. While there are no injury or suspension concerns on the side, the changes expected are more tactical to contain the French attackers.

Rade Krunic, who starred for AC Milan at the weekend in a central midfield role, could play further forward for Bosnia in support of Edin Dzeko. Miralem Pjanic, Gojko Cimirot and Amer Gojak could occupy the central midfield areas, while Sead Kolasinac and Branimir Cipetic could support from the wing-back positions.

The Arsenal defender is the most experienced among those playing at the back, and his form will be crucial to Bosnia’s chances in this game.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Sehic; Ahmedhodzic, Hadzikanunic, Sanicanin; Cipetic, Pjanic, Cimirot, Gojak, Kolasinac; Dzeko, Krunic

Key Stats

  • Bosnia are winless in a competitive or non-competitive game since November 2019.
  • Bosnia are winless in their World Cup qualifying group so far.
  • Bosnia previous meeting with France ended in a 1-0 defeat.
  • France are unbeaten in their last five games against Bosnia in all competitions.
  • France are unbeaten so far in their qualifying group, winning twice from their three games.

Player To Watch

Karim Benzema

Embed from Getty Images

Benzema made a stellar return to the side when he was surprisingly called up by Deschamps for the Euros. The Real Madrid striker quickly took his place ahead of Olivier Giroud in the lineup and made a solid impression. Despite his good performances and goalscoring return, France got eliminated.

In the last World Cup, that France won, Benzema was omitted from the squad for off-field reasons, and he will be eager to make up for lost time and help his team retain the title starting with a good qualifying campaign. The Real Madrid striker will be key to France’s chances to qualify and then win the title all over again.

Prediction

France 2-0 Bosnia & Herzegovina

France are the overwhelming favourites to win this clash against Bosnia when the two sides meet. The Eastern European nation has the required wherewithal to contain a team like France, but the attacking options on the pitch and from the bench on offer for the world champions could be overwhelming for the Bosnians.

France are expected to collect all three points and maintain their lead in Group D. As for Bosnia, their winless run could continue and a loss might diminish their hopes of qualifying with more crucial games around the corner during this international break.

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