France lost to Spain in the quarterfinals at Euro 2012. And since both nations are in Group 1, France will face the defending World and European champions again during their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.
However, before they meet Spain, Les Bleus must take on Finland. With a new manager in Didier Deschamps and a young squad that gained valuable experience at the Euros, people have high hopes for this French side.
Not only are they expected to qualify as one of the top two teams from their group, but making the knockout stage at the next World Cup is also a requirement for France.
The squad has talent at every position and a deep bench that Deschamps can use in any kind of situation.
Let's look at a complete preview of this fantastic World Cup qualifying match.
When: Friday, September 7, at 2:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: ESPN3.com
Where: Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany
Most Important Player to Watch: Olivier Giroud
The French striker has been disappointing in Premier League play for Arsenal thus far, but if he is one of the strikers that starts for France against Finland, Giroud will have an opportunity to shine and earn some much-needed confidence.
If France goes with a 4-4-2 formation, expect to see Giroud partnered with Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema. These two will have plenty of chances to shoot on the Finland goal.
Hopefully for France, Giroud's struggles in England don't come with him to international play, because the French need his attacking quality.
Key Matchup: Battle of the Midfield
The midfielders will be the most important players in this match. France has several playmakers, including Samir Nasri, Yohan Cabaye and Jeremy Menez who can control a match with their passing, and ability to set up teammates with quality looks at goal.
It is crucial for Finland that these French midfielders are put under immediate pressure whenever they get on the ball.
Stopping the supply to Giroud and Benzema will be a priority for the Finnish midfielders.
What They're Saying
Deschamps talked about his strike partnership, via Goal.com, and how they have struggled with their respective clubs thus far.
Deschamps: "It would be better if Benzema and Giroud had already scored this season." #France— Goal.com(@goal_intl) September 5, 2012
Benzema and Giroud will be too much for Finland in this match. It would be surprising if neither striker scored.
If they don't, France has plenty of scoring options in the midfield, such as Franck Ribery, Mathieu Valbuena and Nasri. With goalkeeper Hugo Lloris anchoring the defense, the French will win this match comfortably.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!