France’s first friendly on Euro 2016 road is shell-shocked Spain
Dethroned 2010 World Cup winners Spain have lost just one of their last seven meetings with France, and that is why they are made 21/10 favourites by Coral to beat Les Bleus despite their dismal showing in Brazil.
This prestige friendly, live on Sky Sports 5 (20:00 BST), pits a visiting nation that require a revolution against the Euro 2016 hosts, who will be looking to build to the team ethic evolution and calm instilled by former France captain Didier Deschamps.
Nicknamed ‘the water-carrier’, because there were more technically gifted players in Les Bleus’ midfield when they lifted the 1998 World Cup on home soil and Euro 2000, Deschamps is 7/5 to heap more woe on wounded Spanish pride with a home win. That steady influence, which his moniker suggests, can clearly be seen in the former captain turned coach.
A draw is rated just as likely as a win for La Roja, however, at 21/10. Their hosts stick with the bulk of the squad that reached the World Cup quarter-finals in Brazil, but Franck Ribery, who missed the tournament through injury, has subsequently called time on his international career. Arsenal pair Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny miss out with a broken leg and head wound respectively.
In reaction to their absence, Deschamps has called up Barcelona new boy Jeremy Mathieu, who seldom got an international look-in during five years at Valencia, and Lyon forward Alexandre Lacazette.
Look to Karim Benzema, who has nine goals in his last 10 internationals, to get change out of a Spain defence, which could be without new faces Marc Bartra, Dani Carvajal and Mikel San Jose, by scoring anytime at 5/4.
There are also goals from midfield and wide areas in this France side, so why not back Basque winger Antoine Griezmann to give new Atletico Madrid teammate Juanfran Torres a tough time and score at 2/1? Diminutive playmaker Mathieu Valbeuna, meanwhile, scored at the World Cup and has moved from Marseille to Dynamo Moscow, and represents excellent value in the anytime market at 11/2.
Despite calling up Valencia striker Paco Alcacer and Atletico midfielder Raul Garcia for the first time, Coral understand that neither are likely to start this game. Instead, you can back Chelsea’s in-form frontman Diego Costa to carry his three goals in as many games for his new club over to international duty by scoring anytime at 6/4.
Barcelona winger Pedro Rodriguez netted the only goal in the last meeting between these two nations. He is a 7/1 shot to score first again. Costa’s Stamford Bridge teammate Cesc Fabregas, meanwhile, is 10/3 in the anytime market after rapidly rebooting his career under Jose Mourinho.
Vicente del Bosque has lost record scorer David Villa, ageing metronome Xavi Hernandez and deep-lying playmaker Xabi Alonso to international retirements, whilst AC Milan arrival Fernando Torres, Gerard Pique and Juan Mata have been dropped. Anchorman Javi Martinez has a serious knee injury, and joins fellow midfielders Andres Iniesta and Thiago Alcantara on the sidelines.
In short, there’s a lot missing for Spain and, with new faces doubtful to feature, Del Bosque is set to play fringe players, plus flops Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas, from their World Cup failure against a buoyant Les Bleus. France must see La Roja as there for the taking, and a home win with both teams scoring is tasty at 5/1.