Imagine a scenario where France head coach Didier Deschamps was given carte blanche to raid England’s squad for players. I wonder how many he’d cherry pick to slot straight into his best starting XI?
Dele Alli? Possibly. It’s not entirely clear which Les Bleus midfielder he’d replace though.
Harry Kane? He’s more prolific than Olivier Giroud in Premier League action, but with the outstanding Antoine Griezemann and Kylian Mbappe also involved, you’d have to ask if the French would need him.
And that’s probably just about it at the moment.
England have made good strides since the Euros, but from back to front, flank to flank, and sub to starter, the France Class of 2017 has serious talent at their disposal.
Check out this list of substitutes from a World Cup qualifier against Sweden last week…
There was Mbappe, Alexandre Lacazette, Adrien Rabiot, N’Golo Kante, Thomas Lemar, Ousmane Dembele and Samuel Umtiti, all sat on a diamond-encrusted French bench.
Let that roll call sink in for a second.
So for this reason – and the fact they were stung by a surprise loss to Sweden – I’ll put my St George tinted spectacles to one side and tip the hosts to beat an experimental England side in Paris.
While none of us can be sure who’ll start, and who’ll sit this friendly showpiece out (making it a tricky match to predict) it is certainly the French who are best equipped to tweak their team, and still prevail.
As 41/50 favourites I’d be looking to stretch the odds by backing France to score first and win. You’ll find this on offer with Grosvenor Sport at 53/50.
June fixtures with pride-only at stake, tend to go one of two ways.
We could see a free-for-all goal fest, where the handbrake is well and truly lifted – or instead a low-key, low-pace run-out that doesn’t embarrass either side before they head for the beaches.
My hunch is that we’re in for the latter, and the recent history of this fixture suggests we won’t need an abacus to keep score.
Nine of the last 11 meetings between France and England have featured Under 2.5 goals with the other two contests delivering three.
This pattern is reflected in the price, with Under 2.5 set at 69/100, and 7/6 available for those who feel we’ll see the net bulge at least three times.
If the French do score, don’t be surprised if whiz kid Ousmane Dembele is involved. He was left out against Sweden, and should get his chance to impress on Tuesday night.
The exciting 20-year-old attacking midfielder conjured up eighteen (yes, 18!) assists for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga and Champions League last term.
With a great eye for the killer pass, Dembele’s worth a tinker at 5/2 to set up a goal.
As for England, it’s hard to look past Captain Fantastic Harry Kane.
The Tottenham striker ended the domestic season with a blaze of goals, and his injury time equalizer against Scotland will have sent his self-belief soaring even higher.
Named as skipper for the second game running, Kane is 49/20 to score anytime.
Honestly speaking, I believe Gareth Southgate is doing a more than decent job with the Three Lions, but right now there is no disguising the fact his squad is light in the central midfield and centre back departments.
Against the very best opponents, those weak spots are likely to be exploited.
With the 2018 World Cup still a year away there’s plenty of time for Southgate to find the right shape and partnerships to cover up the frailties, but as it stands today, France are blessed with better quality in most areas of the field.
This is a tough match to end a long campaign. My prediction is for a 2-0 home win. (8/1)
Grosvenor Sport Price Boosts
Harry Kane to score first was 11/2, now 13/2
For more football odds, take a look at Grosvenor Sport’s football betting.
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