The Bayern Munich star's absence from the squad has led to a tactical rethink for coach Didier Deschamps, as the central American side look to cause a significant upsetBy Matheus Harb in Porto Alegre
As Beira-Rio gears up for its World Cup debut, fans wonder - can France win without talisman Franck Ribery? This question may be partly answered on Sunday when the Europeans face Honduras in Porto Alegre.
Les Bleus supporters were left heartbroken when coach Didier Deschamps announced the Bayern Munich star would not feature in Brazil. As were his team-mates, with defender Laurent Koscielny highlighting the winger’s key role in lifting the atmosphere in the camp.
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France bounced back with confidence from their set-back though and left for Brazil on the back of an 8-0 thrashing of Jamaica. Deschamps gave a hint as to his plan B during the win, with marksman Karim Benzema being moved to the left to make room for Olivier Giroud.
It wouldn’t be a surprise, however, if the Arsenal man is omitted from the starting XI so Benzema can take up a central role, with Antoine Griezmann and Mathieu Valbuena on opposite wings.
Another doubt for the French boss lies in defence, as Mathieu Debuchy and Bacary Sagna fight for the right-back spot, with the former still shaking off an injury picked up against Jamaica.
Honduras, meanwhile, will try to keep things tight, and Luis Suarez’s men will be inspired after holding England to a goalless draw in Miami. But the Colombian has his eyes on bigger and better things.
“They [players] should aim for the qualification for the next round, that’s how you make history”, he said. “The players are well aware they are not here for a ride.”
Los Catrachos boss will retain an air of mystery up until the last minute, having so far refused to disclose whether he’s going for a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 approach. Forward Carlos Costly resumed training after a scare on Thursday and it’s more likely he will opt for the first setup, with New England’s Jerry Bengtson by his side.
Defender Bryan Beckeles should also retain a starting position, even if his dismissal against the English last week almost jeopardised the team’s chances.