France face Denmark for the second World Cup group stage in a row on Saturday afternoon.
Four-and-a-half years ago, the pair played out a desperately pedestrian 0-0 draw which confirmed both nations would reach the knock-out stage. There are no such certainties hanging over this second-round match, which (hopefully) increases the prospects of a far livelier encounter.
Here’s the lineup Didier Deschamps may deploy in a bid to follow up France’s opening game victory over Australia earlier this week.
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Kylian Mbappe has scored nine goals in his last nine games for club and country / Ian MacNicol/GettyImages
GK: Hugo Lloris – While Germany’s football association are threatening FIFA with legal action over their late decision regarding the banning of One Love armbands, Lloris quickly accepted the decision, reasoning: “When we are in France, when we welcome foreigners, we often want them to follow our rules, to respect our culture, and I will do the same when I go to Qatar, quite simply.”
RB: Benjamin Pavard – The Bayern Munich defender admitted that France took Argentina’s shock defeat to Saudi Arabia as a warning of the potential pitfalls against a lower-ranked nation. There should be little complacency against a Danish side ranked tenth in the world.
CB: Dayot Upamecano – The only blemish on Upamecano’s brief international career (six wins from seven caps) was a defeat to Denmark in September.
CB: Ibrahima Konate – Across numerous years shared at RB Leipzig, France‘s under-21s and now on the biggest stage of all, Konate has spent more than 64 hours on the pitch alongside Upamecano.
LB: Theo Hernandez – In a bittersweet twist of fate for the Hernandez family, the tournament-ending injury to Lucas has opened a space in the team for his brother Theo.
CM: Aurelien Tchouameni – One of several multilingual members of the French squad, Tchouameni’s developed his understanding of English “to understand the meaning of the music I was listening to”.
CM: Adrien Rabiot – For the first time in his international career, Rabiot scored and created a goal in the same game against Australia.
AM: Antoine Griezmann – The heavily-inked racing horse owner made an enlightening link between his two vices. “Horses are like tattoos: it’s hard to know when to stop,” he said last year.
RW: Ousmane Dembele – The Barcelona winger may be sacrificed if Deschamps opts for a more defensive approach against the Danes – potentially shunting Rabiot out wide and bolstering his midfield. But it would be harsh to drop Dembele after an impressive opening-game display.
ST: Olivier Giroud – France’s joint-record goalscorer famously didn’t find the net in 2018. Yet, Giroud didn’t even hit the target when Les Bleus earned a second star on their shirt. The 36-year-old has already scored twice in Qatar.
LW: Kylian Mbappe – Tipped to win the Ballon d’Or by Caen scout David Lasry when he was just 11 (Mbappe, that is, Lasry was – and remains – an adult), Mbappe finished sixth in the vote for this year’s individual award.