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U.S. vs. France: France Scouting Report

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The U.S. faces a top side led by superstars such as Mbpappe, Greizmann, and Kante.

Sweden v France - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images

The United States Men’s National team heads to Lyon to take on one of the 2018 World Cup favorites in France.

France is 3-1-1 in its last five matches including victories against Ireland and Italy in pre-World Cup friendlies. Les Bleus is 3-0 all-time against the USMNT.

This team has an embarrassment of riches with the roster headlined by superstars such as Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Greizmann, and Raphael Varane.

Roster:

Goalkeeper: Alphonse Areola (PSG), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille)

Defenders: Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid), Presnel Kimpembe (PSG), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City), Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart), Adil Rami (Marseille), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)

Midfielders: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus), Steven N’Zonzi (Sevilla), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich)

Forwards: Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Nabil Fekir (Lyon), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Kylian Mbappe (PSG), Florian Thauvin (Marseille)

It’s hard to predict whether Didier Deschamps will deploy a first choice Starting XI, but with the team’s opening World Cup match a week later I believe he’ll want his best eleven to play together.

Expect Deschamps to utilize either a 4-5-1 or 4-4-2. France has an abundance of attacking talent, but in order to find a good balance a star attacker will likely be left out of the team. The French look to play a quick, attacking style and should dominate possession in this match.

Projected Lineup:

Hugo Lloris should start in goal. On his best days, the Tottenham man is a world class shot stopper who is aggressive in coming off of his line. However, this past Premier League season he was prone to some bizarre errors. Most of these mistakes seemed to be due to mental lapses rather than physical inability.

Samuel Umtiti should get the nod at centerback as he has featured in each of the team’s previous two friendlies. Umtiti’s a hard tackler who is good on the ball, but struggles in the air.

I believe Umtiti will be joined in central defense by Raphael Varane. Varane has impressive pace and his positioning, as well as marking are excellent. One of his few weaknesses is his poor ability on the ball.

Djibril Sidibe is the probable starter at rightback. Sidbie is a skilled 1 v. 1 defender who looks to frequently join the attack. He is a good crosser and has a deadly shot from distance. His major flaw is his tendency to overcommit to the attack and therefore get caught out defensively.

Either Benjamin Mendy or Lucas Hernandez will start at leftback. I think Hernandez will start, as Mendy missed nearly the entire Premier League season due to injury.

The Atletico Madrid man is an excellent tackler who does a great job of intercepting passes, but struggles to remain composed.

N’Golo Kante should feature in defensive midfield. The Chelsea man is a classic #6. He excels at tackling, short passing, and has a high workrate. His only real weaknesses are that he struggles to win aerial duels and offers little in attack.

Stephen N’Zonzi will likely join Kante in central midfield. Although N’Zonzi is a rather boring player, he is a good short passer who helps link the defense to midfield. He is also quite strong and tends to do little things, that often go unnoticed, well. Like Kante, he is not a dangerous attacker.

With Paul Pogba in poor form and facing intense criticism from the media and fans, it seems unlikely that he will start. Corentin Tolisso or Blaise Matuidi will likely take his place.

I’m expecting Tolisso to replace Pogba. Tolisso is an excellent passer who seemingly never stops running. One major criticism of him is that his tackling is quite poor.

This squad has several talented wingers, but I expect Kylian Mbappe to start on the right flank. The PSG youngster excels in all areas of attack and is an entertaining dribbler. He likes to shoot after cutting inside from the wing, but struggles to stay onside and his defensive effort is almost nonexistent.

Look for Thomas Lemar to start on the left wing. The pacy Monaco midfielder’s strengths are passing, crossing, and taking set pieces. His finishing could be better and while he puts in a valiant effort, he is not a particularly skilled defender.

Antoine Greizmann should get the nod at striker. The Europa league winner is a clinical finisher who is equally capable of scoring and creating chances. While he is undoubtedly one of the best players in the world, he is poor in the air and physically weak.

France is a world class side and even if Didier Deschamps does not chose his strongest XI, the team should easily defeat the U.S. The only way I can see the USMNT getting a result is if Les Bleus become complacent and commit several game-changing errors. This seems unlikely and I’m predicting a 3-0 French victory.

What do you think of the French side?