Defending champions France will kick off their 2022/23 UEFA Nations League campaign against Denmark at the Stade de France on Friday.
Defending FIFA World Cup winners and UEFA Europa Nations League champions France kick off their defence of the latter against Denmark at the Stade de France on Friday night.
While successfully defending their crown is all well and good, the summer’s games also allow Didier Deschamps to test out tactics for this year’s World Cup in Qatar.
Curiously enough, France and Denmark have also been drawn into the same group for the World Cup, and tomorrow’s tie could act as a trial of sorts. Les Bleus have a talented squad and go into the match as clear favourites. The other two teams in the group are Austria and Croatia.
Denmark, for their part, have not won a major international tournament since the 1995 Confederations Cup and failed to get past the group stage of the Nations League last time around. They will be keen to do better, and a win over France will certainly send out that statement.
Both Croatia and Austria are tricky customers and can make life difficult for opposing teams on their day. The group is rather well balanced and neither Denmark nor France can afford to start their campaign with a loss. With both teams set to play four games over the next few weeks, it promises to be a busy summer for the players.
The Hard Tackle looks at how both nations could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.
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The squad that will represent Les Bleus in the next 4️⃣ 𝙉𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨 𝙇𝙚𝙖𝙜𝙪𝙚 matches, with a first call-up for @boubaKamara_4 🙌
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Didier Deschamps has a world-class roster on his hands and will be keen to make the most of it this summer. Les Bleus could consider the Nations League as a dress rehearsal for the World Cup, allowing them to test out new tactics and outline their best team, an unenviable task given the talent on offer.
France are likely to go into the game with a 3-4-1-2 formation that will be set up to gain dominance in the middle of the park. Hugo Lloris is a sure starter in goal and will play behind the back three of Raphael Varane, Pesnel Kimpembe and Lucas Hernandez.
Paul Pogba is not a part of the squad after having spent the last few months on the treatment table at Manchester United. This should pave the way for Deschamps to pair N’Golo Kante and Aurelien Tchouameni in midfield, offering his side a dependable duo who can win the battle in the middle of the park.
Doing so will allow the wing-back duo of Theo Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard to bomb forward at will. This will give Antonio Griezmann support in attack and provide ammunition for Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe up front.
Promising youngster Boubacar Kamara has also been included in the squad, and it remains to be seen if Deschamps will hand him a first senior appearance for France. Christopher Nkunku could also get a runout after an impressively prolific campaign at RB Leipzig.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Lloris; Varane, Kimpembe, L Hernandez; Pavard, Kante, Tchouameni, T Hernandez; Griezmann; Benzema, Mbappe
Denmark go into the game as underdogs but could cause France enough trouble if they stick to the game plan. Austria showed in last summer’s Euros that Les Bleus can buckle under pressure, and the Danes will do well to take the game to the home side on the night.
Kasper Hjulmand will be without star defender Simon Kjaer who suffered a season-ending injury while with AC Milan. This could pave the way for Jannik Vestergaard to come into the starting XI alongside Andreas Christensen. They will form the heart of the defence of the 4-3-3 formation that Denmark are likely to line up in.
Leicester City star Kasper Schmeichel will start in goal while Daniel Wass and Joakim Maehle will occupy the full-back spots. Thomas Delaney will start in central midfield alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and a resurgent Christian Eriksen. Just how well Hojbjerg and Delaney can restrict the Tchouameni-Kante duo could influence the impact Eriksen has on his side’s attack.
The Brentford man has been a player reborn and enjoyed an excellent spell in the Premier League since his return to action earlier this year. With the trio of Yussuf Poulsen, Kasper Dolberg and Robert Skov ahead of him, Eriksen will have enough opportunities to split open the French defence.
A lot of what happens on the night could be decided in midfield. Hojbjerg and Delaney are energetic individuals, and their athleticism could prove effective if used right.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Schmeichel; Wass, Christensen, Vestergaard, Maehle; Hojbjerg, Delaney, Eriksen; Skov, Dolberg, Poulsen
- Denmark and France have also been drawn together in the same group at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
- France are the first European side to hold both the World Cup and the Nations League title at the same time.
- Denmark have not won a major international competition since their Confederations Cup triumph in 1995.
- Denmark have won just one of their last eight matches against France.
- France have not lost a game since their shock loss to Austria at Euro 2020. They have won the last seven games in an unbeaten run that stretches to nine games.
Player to Watch
With Paul Pogba out, Tchouameni is set for another appearance at the heart of the France midfield. The AS Monaco star will have another opportunity to show off his abilities amidst a summer transfer tussle between Liverpool, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain for his services.
An athletic presence in the middle of the park, Tchouameni is the future of the French midfield. He has linked up well with Kante in the past and is likely to be in the thick of the action on the night. Hojbjerg & co. are likely to be persistent and will look to nibble away at their French counterparts. In Tchouameni, they might end up biting more than what they can chew.
Tchouameni’s ability to read the game well and win back possession will be key as France attempt to unleash their wing-backs on the counter. The 22-year-old also has an impressive passing range and could act as a pseudo-deep playmaker of sorts if needed. This skill set can make life difficult for the Danish midfielders.
France 2-1 Denmark
While both teams do have their strengths, France not only have world-class quality to call upon but also enough strength in depth. Deschamps will also have the home ground advantage and will be keen to get their campaign off to a winning start.
Denmark can certainly surprise Les Bleus should they turn up with intent. However, the World Champions’ quality should shine through to land them all three points on the night.