After their ignominious exits from the last two major tournaments, there is reason for optimism for French fans under coach Didier Deschamps. There was much to celebrate after Olivier Giroud’s late header have them a 1-1 draw with World and European champions Spain in their World Cup qualifier last October, which was then followed up by a 2-1 friendly victory in Italy.
Recent times have also seen the growing emergence of players who could be a force for Les Bleus for years to come. Midfielder Moussa Sissoko is still inexperienced at international level, but the way he has settled at Newcastle—scoring two goals against Chelsea in just his second appearance — since his January move, provides plenty of evidence that he could be a key fixture in the midfield.
Another 23-year-old, Romain Alesandrini, has made a far more dramatic rise to put himself firmly in Deschamps’ thoughts. Just last season, Alessandrini was still operating in the French second tier with Clermont Foot, but he has flourished since his summer move to Rennes.
The left-sided attacking midfielder has scored nine goals in just 18 appearances this season to accompany his six assists and could well make his debut against Germany.
Joachim Low has recalled Mario Gomez to the Germany squad after the Bayern Munich striker’s injury that ruled him out for much of the first half of the season. Much of the talk, though, has been about a striker that Low has against left out of his squad.
Despite scoring 13 goals for Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga this season, there is still no place for Stefan Kiessling. The 28-year-old has not featured for the national team since September 2010, with Low suggesting that Kiessling does not fit into his style of play.
Germany will want to get a positive result from a tricky trip to France as they still look to recover from the ignominy of letting a four-goal lead slip in a 4-4 World Cup qualifying draw with Sweden last October. Low’s task is made more difficult by the withdrawal of five members of his original squad— Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose, Mario Gotze, Marco Reus and Marcel Schmelzer.
D: Debuchy, Koscielny, Sakho, Evra
M: Sissoko, Cabaye, Matuidi
F: Menez, Benzema, Ribery
D: Howedes, Hummels, Mertesacker, Lahm
Muller, Ozil, Podolski
Prediction: There promises to be a keenly contested battle in the midfield with France’s balance of passing, tenacity and energy going up against the strength of the German side. Playing at home, France should put on a strong performance and continue their run of impressive results with a draw.
France 1-1 Germany
Where to watch: The friendly will kick-off from the Stade de France at 3 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN2, with a live stream available on ESPN3.