Hosts France complete their preparations for this summer’s European Championship with a friendly against Scotland – who failed to qualify for the competition – this weekend (8pm Saturday on Premier Sports).
Didier Deschamps’ side overcame Cameroon in their previous outing, although there were plenty of negatives as well as positives to take from their 3-2 triumph. France were often incisive and thrilling to watch going forward, carving open the Indomitable Lions on numerous occasions, and the individual talent within their ranks was beautifully exemplified by Dimitri Payet’s superb last-minute free-kick to win the match.
On the flip side, though, France looked extremely open at the back at times, allowing Cameroon to come from behind twice and pose a constant threat on the counter-attack. It was a performance full of promise in some senses. The fact that many French supporters remain unconvinced that this Les Bleus side can match the achievements of their compatriots at Euro 1984 and the 1998 World Cup by winning another major tournament on home soil is evidence of the doubts that still surround Deschamps and his charges.
Having said that, France are still rightly considered as one of the favourites to get their hands on the trophy at the Stade de France next month. There are not many other nations who can match the hosts’ quality and strength in depth, with stars such as Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi and Antoine Griezmann among the best players in their position in the competition. There are certainly more reasons for optimism than pessimism, and a convincing performance and result against Scotland will substantially lift the mood ahead of France’s tournament-opening clash with Romania on Friday night.
Scotland failed to qualify for Euro 2016 after finishing fourth in Group D behind Germany, Poland and the Republic of Ireland. It was a tough group in which just one more win would likely have earned the Scots a play-off place. Falling short despite the European Championship being expanded from 16 teams to 24 was a major source of disappointment for all those involved in the game north of the border. Scotland will have therefore already turned their attention towards the 2018 World Cup qualifiers that begin later this year, but their level of performance against France will have to improve from Sunday’s 1-0 defeat by Italy.
Manchester United midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin has been called into the French squad to replace the injured Lassana Diarra. He could be handed a start by Deschamps on Saturday evening, but the former Monaco, Juventus and Marseille boss is likely to name his strongest possible XI otherwise, with the Romania match now just seven days away. Olivier Giroud (pictured) should continue up front despite being booed by some supporters in the win over Cameroon, while Anthony Martial is set to be passed fit in time to feature.
Scotland coach Gordon Strachan could rotate his line-up from the loss to Italy, meanwhile, with Steven Fletcher, Steven Naismith and Craig Bryson all hoping to start after beginning that friendly on the substitutes’ bench.
Our Preview’s France v Scotland Betting Tips Verdict
Taking everything into account, it is difficult to look past a comprehensive and confidence-boosting triumph for France in Metz this weekend. Unlike Scotland, the Euro 2016 hosts are getting ready for competitive action and are likely to play with far greater intensity than their opponents, who will probably not be given much of a sniff.
The odds on a 3-0 home win look tempting, while Manchester United’s Martial could be a good option in the first goalscorer market. There may still be doubts about the French national team, but they are unlikely to be aired much in the aftermath of this encounter. Here are this preview’s betting tips advice: