France clash with Honduras

PORTO ALEGRE: France begin their quest to wipe away the pain of an embarrassing showing at the World Cup in 2010 when they begin their campaign in Brazil against Honduras on Sunday. Winners in 1998, Les Bleus nearly suffered another disastrous exit in their playoff against Ukraine just to qualify as they had to overcome a 2-0 first leg deficit before advancing 3-2 on aggregate. However, that comeback has marked a turning point in Didier Deschamps’ time in charge that has led to wave of optimism surrounding the country’s batch of young stars and that has been stoked by 4-0 and 8-0 thrashings of Norway and Jamaica respectively in pre-tournament friendlies.Giroud will battle with Antoine Griezmann for a place in Deschamps’ starting line-up in place of Franck Ribery, who was ruled out of the tournament by an ongoing back injury. Griezmann has followed up an impressive season with Real Sociedad in La Liga with three goals in four appearances since making his debut for the senior French side in March. However, Giroud, who scored 22 goals for Arsenal this season, believes he deserves to start as the central striker with Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema occupying Ribery’s normal role on the left.
Honduras are expected to provide a very physical first test for Deschamps’ men. The Central Americans were reduced to 10 men in a 0-0 draw in a friendly against England in their final warm-up game last weekend in a match in which Deschamps commented the Hondurans showed ‘aptitude of physical combat.’ However, forward Jerry Bengston believes they are capable of not just ruffling some French feathers but actually winning the game. 

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Aaj Kal