France vs Denmark - World Cup: Team news, lineups & prediction
When France resumes Group D duties against Denmark at Stadium 974 on Saturday night, they will have the opportunity to lock up a spot in the 2022 World Cup's knockout rounds.
Les Bleus began their title defence this week by crushing Australia 4-1, while Kasper Hjulmand's team was held to a scoreless draw by Tunisia.
Following Olivier Giroud's record-tying brace versus Australia on Tuesday, Thierry Henry may not be perched pretty on his perch for much longer. Two former Arsenal strikers can now proudly boast to sit atop the all-time goalscoring charts for the France men's team.
Craig Goodwin scored within the first nine minutes for Craig Deschamps' team, who had struggled in the UEFA Nations League over the summer. However, Giroud's 50th and 51st goals for France, along with headers from Adrien Rabiot and Kylian Mbappe, turned the game around.
Giroud can surpass Henry and score a record-breaking 52nd goal for his nation by making the net ripple once more, taking advantage of Karim Benzema's injury absence. This goal may very well confirm France's place in the round of 16.
The defending world champions are comfortably in first place in Group D and will advance to the knockout stages with a win. If Tunisia and Australia's match ends in a draw, they could even clinch first place.
The last time the World Cup hosts won their opening match was Brazil in 2006, but now that they have broken that curse, France may attempt to win six straight games at a World Cup finals for the first time ever. The previous side to accomplish this accomplishment was the golden generation of Spain in 2010.
Christian Eriksen was able to show off some of the midfield flair that has made him popular with Manchester United supporters, but the Red and Whites' opening match against Tunisia was otherwise a forgettable affair. This was Christian Eriksen's first major tournament appearance for Denmark since his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.
Even though they had to hold off a late VAR check for a potential penalty on Yassine Meriah's handball, Tunisia would have felt the most betrayed not to have won all three points in one of the few 0-0 draws that occurred in round one.
Although Hjulmand has now acknowledged that his team's situation in Group D is "complicated," they will still be in with a chance of finishing in the top two no matter what happens this weekend. They are currently in third place, separated from second-placed Tunisia by fair play points.
The Scandinavian nation could make World Cup history in this game as they have drawn their last four games and could now become just the second team to play out five straight draws on the biggest stage in the world. However, there are some encouraging signs for this Danish team as they have now kept three clean sheets in their last four games.
In fact, they defeated France 2-0 in their final match before the World Cup in the Nations League after also winning 2-1 in June. They also defeated Les Bleus 2-0 in the 2002 World Cup's group stage while France was the defending champion.
France team news
Before Deschamps selected his team, after Deschamps selected his squad, and again during their World Cup journey, France have been beset by injuries. On Tuesday, left-back Lucas Hernandez tore his anterior cruciate ligament during the buildup to Australia's goal by Goodwin.
The Bayern Munich player will not be participating in the remainder of the World Cup as he prepares for months of recovery. Instead, he will hand the ball to his brother Theo Hernandez, who performed admirably after taking over for his injured cousin.
Due to a hip ailment, Deschamps was also missing Kingsley Coman in Friday's training session, but Raphael Varane was deemed able to play against the Socceroos, with Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate pairing up at centre back.
Upamecano and Konate won't feel as though they deserved to lose their positions, but a fully healthy Varane will undoubtedly be given consideration, and the unfortunate Liverpool player may be the one to withdraw.
Denmark team news
Similar circumstances to Hernandez's have befallen Denmark, as Sevilla midfielder Thomas Delaney, who was substituted against Tunisia at halftime due to a knee injury, has also been forced to withdraw from the competition in order to rehabilitate for a month.
Other than Delaney's injury, Hjulmand has no new worries heading into Saturday's game. As a result, he should think about moving Eriksen and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg into a deeper role, which would free up either Mikkel Damsgaard or Jesper Lindstrom to join the attack.
The 29-year-old Andreas Cornelius should only be considered for a substitute role here alongside the injured Yussuf Poulsen after producing one of the worst misses in World Cup history against Tunisia when he somehow hit the post from a yard out.
France possible starting lineup
Lloris; Kounde, Varane, Upamecano, T. Hernandez; Tchouameni, Rabiot; Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe; Giroud
Denmark possible starting lineup
Schmeichel; Andersen, Christensen, Kjaer; Kristensen, Hojbjerg, Eriksen, Maehle; Skov Olsen, Dolberg, Damsgaard
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