France (Francia) vs Portugal will take place at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday, 11:45 AM (Pacific) and the match looks set to be a tight encounter between two European heavyweights.
France endured a decent World Cup campaign but with the 2016 European Championships being held at their home, the pressure is now on the shoulders of manager Didier Deschamps to bring back the glory days to the long suffering Les Bleus faithful.
With France being exempt from the qualifiers, friendlies represent the best opportunity for Deschamps to build a bit of team cohesion while it is also an audition for the French players to impress their manager.
Therefore, the clash against Portugal on Saturday is more than just a mere exhibition for France and one can be sure that the home side will be doing their best to claim victory on the day.
Fernando Santos appointed the new Portugal manager
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Portugal endured an absolutely horrendous World Cup campaign and their shock loss at the hands of minnows Albania at home during their first European qualifiers last month meant that the axe fell on Paulo Bento’s head.
Now former Greece boss Fernando Santos has been placed in charge to revive Portugal’s flailing fortunes and he certainly has a tough job on his hands.
While Portugal possess a wonderfully talented side, there seems to be no team spirit whatsoever in the squad and Santos will surely have his work cut out in his first game in charge against a tough France side.
Didier Deschamp has more or less kept faith with the team that he took to Brazil for the World Cup and apart from the absence of the likes of Franck Ribery (Retired), Laurent Koscielny, Mathieu Debuchy and Olivier Giroud (Injured), France have kept the core of the team intact.
Captain Hugo Lloris will be starting in goal for France and the quartet of Patrice Evra, Raphaël Varane, Jérémy Mathieu and Bacary Sagna should form the back four.
Koscielny out with injury
The energetic trio of Blaise Matuidi, Paul Pogba and Yohan Cabaye should start as the midfield diamond while the pacey duo of Mathieu Valbuena and Antoine Griezmann will most probably be used out wide.
Karim Benzema could be leading the line for France but he will face tough competition from in form André-Pierre Gignac.
Fernando Santos has certainly made a huge impact in terms of his team selection after leaving out no less 12 players who were in squad for the embarrassing defeat at the hands of Albania last month.
In a completely new look Portugal side, João Mário, Adrien Silva, José Fonte, Ivo Pinto, Cédric Soares and Anthony Lopes are the debutant call ups to the national team.
Rui Patrício will be the man between the sticks for Portugal while Pepe and Bruno Alves should start in central defence. Fábio Coentrão and Vitorino Antunes look the most likely full back pairing.
Cristiano Ronaldo makes a return to the Portugal side
João Moutinho, Tiago Mendes and William Carvalho will be used as the midfield trio while Nani and Ricardo Quaresma will probably be deployed out wide.
As a major boost superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will make a return to the starting lineup and considering the form that he is in at the moment, the 29-year old is sure to cause the French defence a lot of problems on the day.
France (Probable XI): Lloris; Evra, Varane, Mathieu, Sagna; Valbuena, Matuidi, Pogba, Cabaye, Griezmann; Gignac
Portugal (Probable XI): Patrício; Coentrão, Alves, Pepe, Antunes; Quaresma, Moutinho, Mendes; Carvalho, Nani; Ronaldo
France – D W L W D
Portugal – W L D W L
6/7/2006 Portugal 0 – 1 France
France vs Portugal Prediction
The two teams have not squared off against each other on too many occasions recently, with their last meeting eight years ago in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, where France emerged victorious on the day.
France have not lost to Portugal in their last eight meetings dating back to 1978 and Les Bleus will certainly be looking to maintain that run on Saturday as well.
Both teams look well matched on paper but France look more of a solid unit than Portugal. Therefore, the hosts should be tagged as favourites heading into the game.
With Cristiano Ronaldo on their side though, Portugal most certainly have the firepower to trouble the French backline. The match looks set to be a close affair but France should edge this one by the odd goal.
France 2 – 1 Portugal
France vs Portugal Television
The France vs Portugal match will be televised in the USA on ESPN Deportes, ESPN3 Online-App and WATCH ESPN at 11:45 AM Pacific.