France vs. Japan: Key Players to Les Bleus Victory

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistOctober 12, 2012

MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 03: Didier Deschamps, head coach of Marseille reacts during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg match at Allianz Arena on April 3, 2012 in Munich, Germany.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Martin Rose/Getty Images

Although it may be just a friendly fixture, both Didier Deschamps and Alberto Zaccheroni will be telling their sides to go out and give it their all when France and Japan clash in Paris this weekend.

The pair have a list of bragging rights to maintain and are both unbeaten since 2010 in friendly competition, a streak that neither will be eager to end.

However, the hosts have a 2014 World Cup qualifier against world champions, Spain, just around the corner so will be looking to a number of stars in particular to pull a result out of the bag in Paris.


Laurent Koscielny

Originally a worry for this fixture after suffering an injury in training, Laurent Koscielny was given the green light on Wednesday and is a major boost in defence for Didier Deschamps.

The Arsenal defender got off to a rocky start after moving to the north London club, but has since gone on to become one of the Gunners’ hottest prospects—something that hasn’t gone unnoticed on the National stage.

While the bulk of Japan’s attacking threat comes from their midfield, Koscielny will have to team up strongly with Moussa Sissoko in the centre of France’s defence in order to stop Mike Havenaar.


Olivier Giroud

Another Arsenal Frenchman to have taken his time settling in at the Emirates Stadium, Olivier Giroud has finally got his scoring trail underway after netting his first league goal under Arsene Wenger over the weekend.

The former Montpellier marksman will team up with Jeremy Menez and Karim Benzema in a forward three, but will take up the most central role of the three.

This gives Giroud responsibility in not only being the main attacker for the hosts, but also playing the role of target man, helping to set up chances for those around him.


Blaise Matuidi

One of three defensively-minded midfielders chosen by Didier Deschamps, Blaise Matuidi is actually the most experienced international amongst the France middle three, despite having just seven international caps.

Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda and Takashi Inui have all shown themselves to be fine assets for Manchester United, CSKA Moscow and Eintracht Frankfurt of late, and it will be the job of the fresh-faced France midfield to contain their creative talents.

PSG-based Matuidi won’t contribute that much in terms of attacking chances, but his breaking up of the Japanese attack is not to be underestimated in the friendly clash.


Etienne Capoue

And it’s Etienne Capoue that will be one of the two partnering Matuidi in that staunch France midfield.

The Japanese fixture will mark Capoue’s sixth cap for Les Bleus and the Toulouse anchorman will need to work in tandem with his fellow former France Under-21 stars in taking this next step up in the senior ranks.

Again, the likes of Inui, Honda and Kagawa will need restraining in order for France to have any hopes of a clean sheet, and that battle begins in the French core.