France can prove a point against new-look Spain.
Nobody could have forecast the manner in which Spain would surrender their world crown in Brazil. A 3-0 defeat of Australia in their final group game barely registering after humiliation at the hands of the Netherlands and Chile.
Vicente del Bosque remains in charge but is looking very much to the future with his first squad since the World Cup. There’ll be a few familiar faces against France in the Stade de France, the venue for the Euro 2016 final, but Xavi and Xabi Alonso, veterans of the golden age, have retired from international football, following in the footsteps of David Villa.
There is no place for Pepe Reina, Fernando Torres or Juan Mata while fitness problems have ruled out Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and Javi Martinez. Valencia striker Paco Alcacer is one of several new names, alongside midfielder Koke, but del Bosque has resisted calls to include Atletico Madrid midfielder Raul Garcia.
2014 World Cup flop Diego Costa has rediscovered his scoring boots with Chelsea and looks a decent bet for First Goalscorer at 11/2 in Paris.
In contrast to the Spanish coach, Didier Deschamps has only made a couple of enforced changes to the squad that travelled to Brazil – Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette and Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu replacing injured Arsenal duo Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny.
They may have gone all the way in South America had they just shown a bit more self-belief in their quarter-final with the Germans and may well be treating this friendly fixture more seriously than their opponents. The French only have friendlies between now and when they host the European Championships in 2016.
There are also a few scores to settle with Spain knocking out Les Bleus in the quarter-finals at Euro 2012 and also winning a World Cup qualifier in Paris earlier this year.
France looks a good call this time given the circumstances. They are 7/5 to win with Karim Benzema quoted at 5/1 to score the first goal. The Real Madrid striker enhanced his reputation in the World Cup and will be fired up facing some of his club colleagues.
This match kicks off at 8.00pm on Thursday, September 4th at the Stade de France, Paris.