World Cup contenders France face off against hosts Russia in the second instalment of international friendlies before domestic duties resume.
The Blues played out an entertaining five-goal thriller with Colombia, but surprisingly blew a two-goal lead, while Stanislav Cherchesov’s men were comprehensively beaten 3-0 by Brazil in their first warm up game.
Where and when: Saint Petersburg Stadium – 27 March, kick-off 16:50
Where you can see Russia vs. France: MUTV, William Hill live streaming
Last time: The two countries met in similar circumstances before EURO 2016 and shared six goals on the night. N’Golo Kanté opened the scoring while attackers André-Pierre Gignac, Dimitri Payet and Kingsley Coman also netted for France.
Russia v France Predictions and Preview
On paper, France should be advancing to the latter stages of the showpiece event this summer but there are still many unanswered questions for Didier Deschamps. The former Marseille midfielder has long been criticised for failing to get the best out of arguably the best group of national players since the 1998 triumph.
Similar to Argentina, the Blues’ obvious strength is their attack, and Deschamps could comfortably field at least three outstanding combinations. Defensively, there are still concerns, and the manner in which France threw away their advantage against a Radamel Falcao led team should worry the ’98 winning captain.
Centre-half pairing Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti, two of Europe’s finest defenders, were careless and the defeat only amplified the pressure on their Coach further. Nevertheless, the Blues are 3/5 favourites for this encounter and should get their preparations for June back on track.
Manchester United duo Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba are expected to feature from the opening whistle, while Ousmane Dembele will hope to stake his claim for the final place in the front four alongside regulars Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann. The starlet is in good form for Barcelona and is available at 7/1 to bag any time during the 90.
Meanwhile, Russia’s preparations for their home event were dented against the Seleção. The South Americans made light work of the clash, exposing the limitations in Cherchesov’s side and the 2008 European Championship semi-finalists do appear short in many areas, as reflected in the betting. Russia are 5/1 to pick up a morale-boosting win, with the opening fixture against Saudi Arabia fast approaching.
One to watch for Russia: Fyodor Smolov will lead the line for his country after continued success at club level. The striker has over 50 strikes to his name in under three campaigns for Krasnodar and is 13/2 to open proceedings.
One to watch for France: Wissam Ben Yedder is making a late charge for a spot on the plane and will be eager to prove his worth. The Sevilla forward is 8/1 to score last.
Long shot: Argentina and Brazil eased to victories in their respective matches and the Blues need to make a statement of their own. Deschamps will have in mind the bulk of his travelling party but the places of Coman, Martial and Florian Thauvin are still far from certain and each need to put in a good showing, in what should be a much-changed France team. A mammoth 5-0 scoreline is priced at 270/3.