Rugged Hondurans should be no match for the French.
Franck Ribery was France’s top scorer in qualifying and his injury is a massive blow to his side’s hopes of making a big impression at this year’s World Cup finals, though Les Bleus will still fancy their chances of making it to the knockout stages.
The fact that the French are in Brazil at all is something of a minor miracle as Didier Deschamps’ team looked dead and buried after losing the first leg of their play-off against Ukraine 2-0.
But they stormed back to win 3-0 in Paris with a couple of goals from Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakho and, despite Ribery’s absence, there is plenty of quality in their squad. Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema will lead their attack and is likely to be partnered by Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud.
In total, there are nine Premier League-based players in Deschamps’ squad and PSG’s Johan Cabaye and Juventus’ Paul Pogba will provide the bite in midfield. They scored eight goals in their final warm-up match against Jamaica but you can’t help thinking that Samir Nasri’s exclusion was a mistake on the part of the coach and they will have to dig in for what could be a tough physical battle against Honduras.
Luis Fernando Suarez’ team did their best to kick England back across the Atlantic in a recent ‘friendly’ in Miami and seem sure to adopt an equally aggressive stance with the French.
Their squad includes a number of familiar players including Stoke’s Wilson Palacios, arguably their key man, and Celtic’s Emilio Izzaguire and they’ll be hoping to be part of the first Honduras team to escape the group stages.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to see where they are going to pick up any points. Defensively, they appear very naïve and concede far too many free-kicks in dangerous positions while veteran goalkeeper Noel Valladares could prove a bit of a liability.
Better forwards are going to punish them at some stage and France really should be much too good and look capable of overcoming a one-goal deficit on the handicap at 11/10. Cabaye is 8/1 to be the game’s last goalscorer.
The match kicks off at 8pm UK time on Sunday, June 15th in Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre