France vs Peru: 5 things to look forward to

Les Bleus can effectively make it into the knockout rounds by defeating


Reuters/MAX ROSSI

Moments of fortune – a VAR-assisted penalty, given for a slight touch, and an unlikely deflection – were enough to give France three points against Australia, and put them into a commanding position in group C. A win would see them effectively qualify for the next round, while Peru need a win if they hope to progress. 

But a better performance will be required if they are to get past a Peru side that won hearts after their spirited loss to Denmark. Caught on the counter in a 1-0 loss, it could all have been so different had Christian Cueva scored his first-half penalty.

Both managers have the option of naming unchanged teams, but there is a suggestion that both will look to tweak. 

It’s been reported that Didier Deschamps might look to bring Olivier Giroud into the starting line-up in place of midfielder Corentin Tolisso, and play the target man ahead of the last outing’s front three of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele in a 4-2-3-1 formation. 

Meanwhile, Peru’s all-time leading scorer Paolo Guerrero could be recalled to the team.

Here are five things to look forward to:

  1. 1 Didier Deschamps to surprise us again


    Reuters/TORU HANAI

    In spite of the attacking talent in their team, France looked awkward and disjointed against Australia. The 4-3-3 formation failed to see the best of any of the forwards, and Paul Pogba didn't influence the game in the way he can. 

    It was such a poor performance that many predicted Deschamps would revert to the 4-4-2 that was often used in qualifying and during Euro 2016, with Griezmann and Giroud as the strikers. 

    However, it's been reported in the French press that he will look to a 4-2-3-1 formation, something his 4-4-2 could have been interpreted in the past. At the last tournament, this used Dimitri Payet and Moussa Sissoko in the "three" behind the striker. This was exceptionally effective against Iceland (yielding five goals), but less so against Portugal in the final. 

    Immediately, there are warning signs. If Deschamps is to use the same front three that played against Australia behind an out-and-out number nine, Dembele and Mbappe could leave gaps behind them. 

    Paul Pogba, sitting in a midfield two, is not suited to that position and his marauding runs forward would ask too much of his partner, even if it is one as industrious as N'Golo Kante. 

    It's an ambitious system that could just work against the many teams at this World Cup who are happy to sit compact with two banks of four, but Peru aren't that. They look to attack. 

  2. 2 More filled seats in Ekaterinburg


    Reuters/RICARDO MORAES

    Those in Russia have reported how many Peruvians have flooded the streets of Moscow and Saransk in eager anticipation of their country's first World Cup in 36 years.

    While the loss to Denmark was disappointing, it seems nobody is regretting the epic trip across the ocean, and their team's performance should give them hope of doing something special against France.

    The first game in Ekaterinburg didn't make for good viewing on television, with the main stand captured by the cameras half-empty, though it was reported the Egyptian contingent in the other stands provided a good atmosphere.

    With arguably the most dedicated following in Russia, the Peruvians will hopefully make the stadium far fuller this time around.

  3. 3 Christian Cueva to catch the eye again


    Reuters/CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS

    It's a shame that Christian Cueva missed the all-important penalty against Denmark because he was Peru's liveliest and most eye-catching player on the day. 

    The São Paulo attacking midfielder was often at the heart of Peru's best moves and was integral to their first-half dominance. Aware of the significance of that penalty, and the consequence of skying it over the bar, he tried a little too hard in the second half. You might call it selfishness, but a kinder reading would be an eagerness to make amends. 

    He needs to put that behind him against France and get back to playing as the nucleus of Peru's dangerous intent. With the likes of Paolo Guerrero and Jefferson Farfan, he can be more effective if he turns supplier once again. 

  4. 4 Peru to win more hearts


    Reuters/MAX ROSSI

    There have been some exceptionally good performances from underdogs in the opening round of World Cup games. Iceland were tremendously organised in keeping out Argentina, Switzerland did a number on Brazil, while Tunisia came close to upsetting England. 

    There's a cold logic in defending deep, wasting time and doubling up on the superstars of the tournament, and when it's effective it demands respect and kudos. But it's easier to admire the teams that look to punch back and approach the game with a sense of verve. 

    Mexico were outrageously entertaining against Germany and were good value for their unlikely three points. Peru didn't get the same reward but won fans over by not just looking to contain Denmark, but going toe-to-toe with them. 

    France arguably have the most attacking talent at the World Cup and the likes of Griezmann, Mbappe and Dembele could well exploit any space that Peru leaves, just as Denmark did on the counter-attack. 

    It's unlikely that Ricardo Gareca's side will be quite so gung-ho against this opposition, but they will probably show more endeavour than a lot of teams. 

    They may well lose this, and if they do it would be their last meaningful game in Russia, but they will be remembered for the spirit in which they have approached the game. 

    Many will appreciate that this won't just be another exhibition of attack-vs-defence. 

  5. 5 Can Paul Pogba lead?


    Reuters/TORU HANAI

    Didier Deschamps has often faced the same dilemma as Jose Mourinho - how to get the best out of Paul Pogba, potentially the centerpiece and beating heart of a great team. 

    It doesn't look like he'll look to emulate Mourinho, who eventually (and somewhat reluctantly) started to get the best out of the Frenchman by utilising him as the furthest player forward in a midfield three. With Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic behind him, he was free to be the game-changer he can be.

    Kante is an obvious pick, but Deschamps is yet to try another sitting midfielder alongside him. This wasn't how it worked with Tolisso against Australia, with the midfield three looking muddled and detached from the forwards.

    Yet again, it looks like Pogba will not be given his preferred position - this time being asked to sit in a two alongside Kante. 

    Can he be the talisman he's expected to be when out of position? Will he be able to adapt his game?

    Listen to the RealSport football writers discuss all the action from Day 6 of the World Cup in Kremlins in the Basement: RealSport’s daily World Cup podcast.

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