France will take on a struggling Gibraltar as Didier Deschamps’s men aim to maintain their 100% record in this qualifying campaign.
France, who face Gibraltar this weekend, have won all of their qualifying games for the European Championships before in 1992 and 2004. Didier Deschamps can repeat that feat with two games remaining in Group B, with the World Cup runners-up set to host Gibraltar first and then travel to Greece for their final encounter of this campaign.
Deschamps’s side have been at their ruthless best despite boasting some of the most formidable attackers in Europe. Some of their adversaries, like Spain and Portugal, have dwarfed the French in terms of goals scored, but Les Bleus have been the most formidable team in defence, conceding just a single goal during their six games so far.
📣 The 2️⃣3️⃣ Blues called up for 2023's 𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐛𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐤 🇫🇷
— French Team ⭐⭐ (@FrenchTeam) November 9, 2023
Having beaten the Netherlands in the last international break to cement their place at the top of Group B, France will not aim to finish with maximum points to enter Pot-1 when the draw begins. France will more or less make the cut, but for now, Deschamps will want no stone unturned in their final two games.
While France continue to enjoy their qualifying journey and aim for perfection in their final two games, Gibraltar will want some relevance to their campaign before it draws close. The European minnows have had a disastrous run thus far.
Julio Cesar Ribas’s side have yet to score a single goal during their qualifying campaign and have shipped in 21 strikes. Alongside minnows like Cyprus, Malta, San Marino, and Liechtenstein, Gibraltar has zero points in this campaign.
Gibraltar will aim to finish the campaign on a high note. But there’s little hope for a positive outcome in their remaining two fixtures against France and the Netherlands. They will aim to restrict France to their abilities, but it appears like a daunting task and potentially another heavy defeat on the road for Ribas’s men.
Team News & Tactics
Didier Deschamps has the luxury to name an altogether new starting eleven for this game to test his fringe stars. He is unlikely to make a total revamp, as the manager would keep some of his key players in the team, including Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann.
In the cold with a smile! 🥶😁 pic.twitter.com/POKLLZgT8O
— French Team ⭐⭐ (@FrenchTeam) November 16, 2023
The big news ahead of this international break was the call-up for PSG teenager Warren Zaire-Emery, with the 17-year-old likely to make his full debut against Gibraltar. He will benefit from the absence of Aurelien Tchouameni and then the withdrawal of his Real Madrid teammate Eduardo Camvinga after a collision in training with Ousmane Dembele.
Ibrahima Konate has also withdrawn from the squad, which has opened up space for Jean-Clair Todibo, who will hope to earn only his second cap for France. The game represents a brilliant opportunity for William Saliba, with Deschamps suggesting the Arsenal man will have to earn his place in the national side as he comes into a different environment here.
Brice Samba could start between the sticks, while Marcus Thuram might earn a start in front of goal. Deschamps will keep some of his regulars like Lucas Hernandez, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele in the starting lineup in what may appear like a balanced squad.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Samba; Clauss, Saliba, L. Hernandez, T. Hernandez; Zaire-Emery, Rabiot; Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe; Thuram
Julio Cesar Ribas will likely make some changes to his lineup from the October internationals. Gibraltar are missing a few experienced players from that last round of fixtures. Ethan Britto, Kian Ronan and Louie Annesley are all absent from the squad, with the latter’s absence likely to bring a change of shape on the pitch.
📸 All systems go in Nice as your 🇬🇮 Men's National Team prepare to go toe-to-toe with France 🇫🇷 on Saturday night ⚽ pic.twitter.com/B9iZPAez8L
— Gibraltar FA (@GibraltarFA) November 16, 2023
With Annesley, Ribas has played a back four, with the midfielder holding the base in the centre. But with the host of absentees, the Gibraltas boss could go with an experienced back-five and a midfield four, as he would revert to an old style.
Gibraltar’s 40-year-old captain, Roy Chipolina, will continue to start games. In this game, he could match midfielder Liam Walker’s record 73rd cap, although the latter would improve his record as he will start against France.
Lee Casciaro could also make his 60th appearance for Gibraltar at the tender age of 42, but in the current scheme of things, Ribas will prefer Wycombe Wanderers’ Tjay De Barr to lead the line against France.
Probable Lineup (5-4-1): Coleing; Sergeant, R. Chipolina, Mouelhi, J. Chipolina, Olivero; Walker, Pozo, Badr, El Hmidi; De Barr
- France are on course to finish a third European qualifying campaign with a 100% record.
- France boasts the best defensive record of all teams in this qualification campaign after conceding only once.
- Gibraltar has not scored a single goal, conceded 21 times and have zero points in their group.
- Gibraltar are one of the 5 teams in this Qualifying campaign without a single point to show.
- Gibraltar have suffered 18 defeats in their last 18 European qualifying games.
Player to Watch
🗣️France manager Didier Deschamps on #Arsenal's William Saliba: "He hasn't had a lot of game time with us. He is performing well for his club.
"At international level, he hasn't always found himself in the best conditions in matches where I've rotated a lot. He isn't in the same… pic.twitter.com/dOo8WedCTK
— Arsenal News Channel (@Arsenalnewschan) November 16, 2023
William Saliba might have proven himself as one of the best in the Premier League. But he still has a long way to go before cementing his place in France. Didier Deschamps’s comments ahead of these fixtures on the defender should motivate the Frenchman to stake a claim in the manager’s plans.
Deschamps commented that Saliba feels much more comfortable at Arsenal but hinted the defender must win his place in the national team squad. He will likely start this international game without a hitch. But it is also time for him to prove his worth ahead of Ibrahima Konate and Dayot Upamecano.
France 5-0 Gibraltar
Gibraltar have yet to come close to scoring a single goal during this qualifying campaign, and they may not start now against a team like France. This game is about how much the hosts can score against their struggling counterparts.
It is an excellent game for Didier Deschamps to test his fringe stars and tune them to fit the squad best. Despite some injuries, the French manager boasts a formidable team, with Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann likely to run riot in front of goal to improve their numbers in French colours.