France’s final World Cup warm-up match sees minnows Jamaica visit Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Sunday, where Didier Deschamps’ side will be looking to head to Brazil off the back of a comfortable victory.
Though the French will likely breeze through Group E at the expense of Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras, they’ll have to do so without their star man, Franck Ribery, who was ruled out of the tournament on Friday through injury.
So, then, Sunday’s friendly is a great chance for Deschamps to experiment with his side and find a way to cope without the Bayern Munich star.
Venue: Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Villeneuve d’Ascq
Date: Sunday 8 June
Time: 8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET
TV Info: BT Sport 1/TV5Monde USA
Live Stream: BT Sport website (UK only)
How Will the French Cope Without Ribery?
Though losing your best player on the eve of a major tournament is far from a good thing, it’s safe to say that France still have the firepower in their unit to negotiate the group stage and potentially beyond.
The winger was ruled out of this year’s World Cup with a niggling back injury on Friday and told the French Football Federation just how big a personal blow it was—per ESPN:
It’s with death in the soul that I am forced to leave the French national team and pull out of the World Cup. I had always hoped, after noting encouraging signs in recent days, to be ready for France—Jamaica.
While sad news for French fans, one man who will be rubbing his hands together is Real Sociedad’s Antoine Griezmann, who will now likely be given his chance on the left wing.
The 23-year-old scored 16 goals and grabbed three assists in last season’s La Liga, per WhoScored.com, and his stock continues to rise with every stellar performance.
Though France looked a little edgy in their recent 1-1 draw with Paraguay, one player who stood out was Griezmann, and if he’s handed his chance at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Sunday, he’ll undoubtedly be thrilling the French crowd once again.
He’ll have a very leaky defence to exploit on his road to cementing a place in the national team setup, too, with Jamaica keeping just three clean sheets in their last 16 matches—per Soccerway.
Two of those clean sheets came in the nation’s only two victories in its last 20 matches, against the weak opposition of St. Lucia and Barbados.
While Ribery’s absence will be a psychological blow, it’s unlikely to affect the thrashing in prospect on Sunday, where players will have the chance to impress Deschamps and stake a claim for a starting berth in France’s opening World Cup match with Honduras.
Besides, based on OptaJean’s statistics, only good can come of Ribery not being in the squad:
61% - Check out France results with or without Franck Ribéry since his first cap (May 2006). Hope. pic.twitter.com/zIi213vDmR— OptaJean (@OptaJean) June 6, 2014
Nasri would be the ideal replacement for Ribery on the left side of midfield, and former England striker Gary Lineker was quick to rub it in:
Ribery is out of the World Cup. Just as well France has Nasri.....oh wait a minute.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 6, 2014
However, with France in promising form having won six of their last eight matches—per Soccerway—Sunday’s game should still be a walkover even without their star personnel.
With a disaster World Cup 2010 campaign to make up for in Brazil, France will come out all guns blazing when Group E kicks off on 15 June as they look to emulate the success of 1998.
Deschamps was the World Cup-winning captain that year, and such is his style of management that he’ll be making sure the French really put Jamaica to the sword on Sunday to get the confidence sky-high with or without Ribery.
Prediction: France 6-0 Jamaica