A last-ditch effort against Greece could see the French side complete their Euro 2024 qualification with an eighth win in eight games on Tuesday in Athens where Didier Deschamps announced the switch.
The match will be at 2:30 pm on TVA Sport.
The seeding spot in the draw on December 2 was locked in by the 14-0 defeat inflicted on Gibraltar in Nice on Saturday, leaving Didier Deschamps’ men with just one aim: to finish on a high.
The Blues already managed it before Euro 2004 under the leadership of Jacques Santini, in a group that also included Slovenia, Israel, Cyprus and Malta, with 29 goals scored and 2 goals conceded, and before the 1992 edition with Michel Platini as coach, against Czechoslovakia, Spain, Iceland and Albania (20 goals for, 6 against).
Kylian Mbappé’s teammates currently have 27 goals for and only 1 against, they scored against the Netherlands in Amsterdam (2-1).
Raymond Kopa, Jean Vincent and Robert Jonquet’s France also won all their games en route to the 1954 World Cup, but it was just four out of four in a group of three with Ireland and Luxembourg.
“We know that if we are better than Argentina playing against Brazil, we will finish the year first in the Fifa rankings”, adds Adrien Rabiot as a “small challenge”.
Apart from the symbols, the members of the current generation, mostly renewed after the lost final of the World Cup in Qatar (3-3, 4 tab to 2 for Argentina), are trying to win a place among the 23.
Second choice for Samba
Deschamps warned that there will be changes compared to the festival in Nice. “I have eight players playing on Friday night,” he said, referring to the PSG-Monaco and Bayern Munich games. “I take it into account as much as possible, but I have to work as a team,” he warns.
He could start Randal Kolo Muani or Olivier Giroud in attack as Marcus Thuram played – and scored his second goal for the Blue – against Gibraltar, in a three-way waltz for the position.
Right-back Jonathan Clauss-Kingsley Coman was very effective on Saturday night in Nice, but “DD” could give playing time to his direct competitors, Jules Koundé and Ousmane Dembélé.
The coach could also change his hinge, after aligning Dayot Upamecan and Jean-Clair Todibo, Niçois and the regional stage player, on Saturday.
In the end, Deschamps assured that “Brice Samba will be the goalkeeper” for his second choice.
There will be no more sight of Warren Zaire-Emery, who returned to Paris on Sunday afternoon after spraining his right ankle while scoring his first international goal, aged 17.
Care for Parisians
Another Parisian, Lucas Hernandez, who remained on the bench against Gibraltar, could still get minutes.
In Zaire-Emery’s absence, Khéphren Thuram hopes to have another option. France could then play for the first time in 905 games with two pairs of brothers, if Théo and Lucas Hernandez play and Marcus is lined up at the same time as Khéphren.
For their part, the Greeks do not have an accounting goal either. They can no longer go directly to Germany for the continental tournament (June 14 – July 14) and are already preparing for the play-offs.
In the C leg of the Nations League, they will play a four-team mini-tournament with Georgia, Luxembourg and Kazakhstan (who can still qualify directly) or Azerbaijan.
“This match must serve as preparation with a lot of intelligence,” assured AFP Greek coach Gustavo Poyet, former partner of Didier Deschamps at Chelsea (1999-2000).
“Be humble and accept the reality: France is much better than Greece. But we have to find a formula to try to reduce this difference in level,” explains the Uruguayan.
France wants to round off an almost perfect year, with only one defeat, in a friendly match in Germany (2-1).