Tuesday 13th June. 8PM. ITV 1
A long and difficult season for the England football team ends back in the land where they utterly embarrassed themselves against Iceland at last year’s Euros.
Many things have changed since then, but the Three Lions are still licking their wounds. Can they continue their road to recovery with a big performance against a strong France side? Here’s all you need to know.
Les Bleus Looking To Bounce Back
An end of season friendly might not always provide huge motivation, but Didier Deschamps saw his men fall to a disappointing loss on Friday while he is also looking at a number of young players. So this one against England could be a little different.
Like England, France endured a goalkeeping blunder in the recent qualifiers as Hugo Lloris’s mistake cost them dearly in Sweden. Les Bleus are still joint top of a difficult Group A, though, and will be expected to qualify for the World Cup. In truth, many of their fans will expect to see a win in this match too.
Deschamps has plenty of attacking stars to choose from with Kylian Mbappe, Alexandre Lacazette and Ousmane Dembele eager to get some minutes while Olivier Giroud, Dimitri Payet and Antoinne Griezmann could cause problems for England too.
France don’t always perform that well in friendlies. But with bags of quality throughout the defensive and midfield areas too, a strong performance here could blow England away.
Southgate Expected To Experiment
Following the late drama of Saturday’s draw in Scotland, England head to Paris knowing that the pressure is off in the final game of what has been a turbulent campaign. However, given the fact that he’s still playing catchup to a certain extent, manager Gareth Southgate will want to access his options.
The Three Lions probably won’t make wholesale change, but there will inevitably be a few. One of them could come between the sticks as two free-kicks at Hampden have raised further questions about Joe Hart’s credentials. Fraser Forster is expected to get the nod, but all three understudies will be chomping at the bit.
Elsewhere in defence, Kieran Trippier could be set for a first cap while Aaron Cresswell could earn his second. While there are fresh faces across the pitch, this England squad boasts plenty of experience too. Southgate will be eager to see that blend pay dividends, especially as there is now less than12 months to go until the big kick-off in Russia.
The result isn’t overly crucial, but it’s great chance for England to test themselves against one of Europe’s best. Let’s hope they can follow in the footsteps of the U20s.
France v England Betting
With home advantage on their side, France enter this friendly as the pre-game favourites at 10/11 with 888sport while England are priced 3/1 for an away win. Alternatively, a stalemate can be backed at 12/5.
France’s wealth of attacking options is quite scary, and Deschamps will fancy his side’s chances regardless of the team he picks. Given that they’re all potential playing for places in next season’s qualifiers, and the subsequent World Cup, motivation shouldn’t be an issue.
Throw England’s potential defensive inexperience into the mix, and two goals or more looks a great shout at 11/10.
There’s always the potential of a slow game due to the timing, but this France team does boast some fantastic quality. Given that this one is at the Stade de France, they should be ready to pile on the pressure.
We don’t see England enjoying too much of the play, especially if the fresher faces are tested. While it might not be a game with too many corners, it’s worth backing France to beat the handicap.