France will take on Belgium in what is easily one of the more local friendlies in this weekend’s schedule. For France, though, this is a more important game because they are not participating in the qualifiers due to their role as hosts of Euro 2016. Les Bleus need ever opportunity to sharpen up a head of next summer’s tournament.
Manager Didier Deschamps will be under pressure to perform between now and Euro 2016 itself after exiting the 2014 World Cup at the quarter-final stage. The former France captain is still proving his qualities as an international manager.
Belgium manager Marc Wilmots is also a former player for his country. Pressure is another issue with which Wilmots is familiar. The 46-year-old is overseeing his country’s golden generation of players. Failure with talented players like Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne will be unacceptable for many.
France have a number of players aged from their early-20s to mid-20s who will be expected to become lynchpins of the side in the coming years. Defenders Raphaël Varane and Eliaquim Mangala, midfielders Paul Pogba and Geoffrey Kondogbia, and forwards Antoine Griezmann and Alexandre Lacazette all have tremendous potential.
However, the concern is that the emerging French talents are not quite as experienced as their Belgium counterparts. To that end, this should be a fascinating encounter between to evenly matched sides.
Belgium have a talented defence that is supported by world-class goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. Strong midfielders like Axel Witsel and Mousa Dembélé then give the more creative players a chance to thrive.
Eden Hazard had an incredible season for Chelsea, winning awards and trophies en route to scoring 14 league foals. Former Chelsea teammate Kevin De Bruyne also had a fantastic season, scoring 10 and assisting 20 in the league. Both could prove instrumental against France.
Tip one: Draw @ 3.30 with Betfair
Tip two: Over 2.5 goals @ 2.1 with Betfair
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Belgium have registered two draws from five in their Euro 2016 qualifiers. Meanwhile, France’s lack of competitive football in recent months could count against them when playing Belgium.