As France continue to build towards hosting the 2016 European Championships next summer, they take on Brazil at the Stade de France on Thursday night in the latest of their high-profile friendly matches.
It is a repeat of the famous World Cup final that France won 3-0 back in 1998. The home fans will be hoping for a repeat of that fateful night in July, but Dunga will be looking for retribution as the former Brazil captain takes on his counterpart from that day in Didier Deschamps.
Both teams have a few players missing from their latest international squads, with Brazil’s squad looking distinctly different from the group that reached the semi-finals of their home World Cup last summer.
France are without Paul Pogba and Yohan Cabaye from their World Cup midfield through injury. Dunga originally selected Paris Saint-Germain defenders David Luiz and Marquinhos, but both miss out playing in front of the Parisian public.
Deschamps has selected Lyon’s outstanding young forwards Nabil Fekir and Alexandre Lacazette, and Monaco’s Geoffrey Kondogbia has been rewarded for his performances against Arsenal in the Champions League. In the absence of Hugo Iloris, Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane will likely lead Les Bleus out onto the pitch on tonight.
W v Sweden 1-0—Friendly
D v Albania 1-1—Friendly
W v Armenia 3-0—Friendly
W v Portugal 2-1—Friendly
D v Serbia 1-1—Friendly
W v Austria 2-1—Friendly
W v Turkey 4-0—Friendly
W v Japan 4-0—Friendly
W v Argentina 2-0—Friendly
W v Ecuador 1-0—Friendly
France: (4-3-1-2) Steve Mandanda; Bacary Sagna, Raphael Varane, Mamadou Sakho, Patrice Evra; Blaise Matuidi, Moussa Sissoko, Morgan Schneiderlin; Mathieu Valbuena; Antoine Griezmann, Karim Benzema
Brazil: (4-4-2) Jefferson; Danilo, Thiago Silva, Miranda, Filipe Luis; Fernandinho, Luiz Gustavo, Willian, Oscar; Neymar, Roberto Firmino
Players to Watch
Still only 31 years old, the former Real Madrid and AC Milan forward has been in good form for Brazilian club Santos of late and would love to spring a surprise on the huge Stade de France stage.
His form in the Brazilian Serie A led to his recall after the World Cup, and he came off the bench in friendlies against Japan and Argentina last year. He didn’t feature in the two most recent friendlies, but with five goals in his last five games, Robinho is back in. If he wants to make Dunga’s squad for the Copa America, he will need to show he can make an impact at this level, even if it is off the bench.
From Dunga’s training sessions this week, there is a chance that Brazil will play with Hoffenheim’s Roberto Firmino as a false nine on Thursday. This will give Raphael Varane a huge test as France’s captain tries to decide which forwards he has to pick up.
It was expected that the Real Madrid man would be up against Barcelona’s Neymar, but the Selecao’s star would then be allowed to drift and Varane would have a tough job in tracking runners, rather than concentrating on just one striker.
His communication with Sakho will need to be at an all-time high as both centre-backs try to alert each other to the movement of their opponents.
This is exactly the type of test that Deschamps will be delighted to put his defence to as they prepare for the European Championships.
Credits: Andrew Gibney,http://bleacherreport.com/