France are ready to resume a disappointing Nations League campaign with a clash against Austria, as a defeat would see them relegated to League B.
Didier Deschamps is under increasing pressure to get his France side back on track after a few disappointing results in recent international breaks. The manager will be wary of the expectations on his shoulders as they remain on the brink of losing the defence for the Nations League title.
Not only did France suffer a five-game winless streak in 2021, but in their current form, they are close to suffering three home defeats in a row. If that happens, Deschamps will be under the spotlight, especially with the World Cup on the horizon.
Deschamps knows there’s no hope left, although a win over Austria could save them some face rather than finishing at the bottom of their table. The manager will aim to assess his squad, which would be the only time for him to gauge their quality.
Meanwhile, Ralf Rangnick knows a win over France would see the hosts relegated to League B. He is also aware of the repercussions of losing this game to the Les Blues, which would see them finish at the bottom. Rangnick’s side did begin this campaign with a brilliant win over Croatia but have since fallen apart.
Austria have managed just one point from the next nine available, which has placed them third in the table. If they are to win and Croatia loses their game, then Rangnick’s side will finish in second place. However, France will be a different challenge altogether, so that it will be a tricky test for Rangnick.
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Deschamps has plenty of problems with squad injuries, with as many as eight first-team players unavailable for this clash. These include Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Kinglsey Coman, and Karim Benzema. He still has a strong enough squad to trust to overcome Austria.
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There have been more casualties since Deschamps announced his squad for the upcoming rounds. Those absentees could allow the manager to test some of his other players; some players like Olivier Giroud may need consistent game time to impress the French boss, while others like William Saliba will look to cement their place in the side.
Deschamps might look to start with Saliba and Raphael Varane at the back, although Jules Kounde is also an option for central defence. Mike Maignan is certain to start between the sticks. There could be an opening for Giroud in light of Benzema’s absence.
Deschamps could look to experiment with his midfield, with Aurelien Tchouameni, Eduardo Camavinga, and Matteo Guendouzi likely to form a partnership. Antoine Griezmann, despite his shunted minutes with Atletico Madrid, may be preferred to play behind the striker, while Kylian Mbappe is likely to partner Giroud up front.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2) – Maignan; Pavard, Kounde, Saliba, Mendy; Guendouzi, Tchouameni, Camavinga; Griezmann; Giroud, Mbappe
Rangnick has plenty of injury concerns with his squad. Konrad Laimer is out of the clash, while Valentino Lazaro is also out of the contest. The manager will certainly miss the services of towering frontman Sasa Kalajdzic, who will be out for the long term after an ACL injury with Wolves.
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Florian Grillitsch and Stefan Ilsakner are also out of the team, which narrows Rangnick’s options with his squad. Despite Kalajdzic’s absence, the manager will rely upon Marko Arnautovic, who has been impressive with six goals from seven Seria A games this season.
David Alaba and Marcel Sabitzer are the star men on this side, with Rangnick likely to manage a back-three style with the team. Alaba may be played a bit out of position at left wing-back, which may help the team get forward more.
Sabitzer will hold the midfield for Austria and will have support from Xaver Schlager and Christoph Baumgartner on either side. Arnautovic will likely have Michael Gregoritsch as his strike partner in a front two.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2) – Lindner; Trauner, Lienhart, Danso; Lainer, Baumgartner, Sabitzer, Schlager, Alaba; Arnautovic, Gregoritsch
- France are yet to win a Nations League game in this campaign on home soil.
- A draw or win for Austria will see France relegated to League B.
- Austria needs a similar result to ensure its survival in League A.
- Austria have suffered 4 consecutive defeats to France away from home.
- Austria last defeated France in France during a friendly in 1965.
Player to Watch
— 433 (@433) September 21, 2022
It has been an interesting summer for Mbappe as he became the centre of a transfer battle between PSG and Real Madrid. While he has remained with the Parisians, his form has not been at the very top this season. While he is a sure starter under Deschamps, the focus will be on him much more than before.
The injuries to key stars in the squad puts much of the attacking responsibility on the PSG star. A win over Austria will ensure France does not finish at the bottom of their group. Mbappe’s contribution to their attack will be key, and Deschamps will certainly hope to see the best form of the forward.
France 2-1 Austria
The two teams lingering at the bottom of their table have an important game at hand. Both will likely go for victory, more so France, because they need to save some face before the World Cup preparations commence. However, the French side’s home performances have been dismal, particularly in this competition.
Despite many injuries plaguing this French squad, they still possess immense qualities and could beat any team. Austria may be hoping the France of the summer break turns up, but Deschamps will have much more quality to ensure a win here.