France host Dutch in crucial tie


France’s midfielder Paul Pogba drinks before a training session in Clairefontaine en Yvelines on August 28, 2017, as part of the team’s preparation for the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying football match against The Netherlands and Luxembourg. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE

France will host the Netherlands at Stade de France today in a potentially crucial World Cup 2018 qualifier.

The two countries sit second and third in Group A behind Sweden, with Les Bleus ahead of the Dutch by three points.

A win for the hosts, then, would leave Dick Advocaat with a lot of work to do to ensure the Netherlands do not miss another major tournament as the qualification stage draws to a close.

France are missing Raphael Varane, who is injured, while Ousmane Dembele was left out of the squad after refusing to train at Borussia Dortmund in order to force through his move to Barcelona.

There was also no place for Anthony Martial and Karim Benzema continues to be exiled.

Netherlands are without Virgil van Dijk, Nathan Ake, Daryl Janmaat, and Jeffrey Bruma in defence, so Advocaat could stick with the four-man unit that kept a clean sheet in the 4-0 win against Luxembourg last time out.

Robin van Persie has earned a recall but Vincent Janssen has a good record with his country and will likely keep his place in the starting XI.

Didier Deschamps has such strength in depth at his disposal nowadays that every France squad he announces seems to be met with debate about who has not made the cut rather than who has.

If Kylian Mbappe and Thomas Lemar leave Monaco before the transfer deadline, he will boast somewhere in the region of €400 million of talent in the Monaco duo.

The challenge for Deschamps is fitting all of the quality at his disposal into one starting XI while achieving a sensible balance.

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