France will be up against Croatia in the fourth round of the UEFA Nations League A Group 1 at the Parc des Princes in Paris. This is a re-match between the two sides who had met a round ago. On that occasion, they couldn’t be separated and the match ended in a 1-1 stalemate between the 2018 World Cup finalists.
Reigning world champions France are winless in the current cycle of the UEFA Nations League and unsurprisingly, are placed at the bottom of the table. Les Bleus were held to a 1-1 draw by Austria on Friday night. On the other hand, Zlatko Dalic’s Croatia finally open their account in the competition with a 1-0 win against Denmark.
It has been an abysmal start to the 2022-23 UEFA Nations League campaign for France so far. Why one of the most talented and stacked squads in the world is struggling at the moment is a major cause of introspection. Whether it is the fatigue from a long and hard domestic season or something deeper within the system of Didier Deschamps, it is simply not clicking at the moment for the reigning world champions.
Winless so far, France are at the risk of ending the month without a win from there for you for Nations League matches in the ongoing international break.
Zinedine Zidane being constantly linked with the PSG job, is on a larger whole, disappointing for fans of Les Blues. They can feel that definite changes are needed in the hot seat and that Deschamps has gotten the team as far as he can. The fans could only helplessly watch from the sidelines as the team struggled in a 1-1 draw with Austria as well the last time out. Superstar Kylian Mbappe came off the bench to cancel out Andreas Weimann’s opener for the hosts.
For all their strengths and resources across several positions and a squad depth that would make the biggest teams in the world envious, France have been able to take just two points from the first nine on offer and continue to spiral down in their UEFA Nations League group. With two draws and a loss, they are fourth in the standings.
Should their fortunes not improve going forward, a highly unexpected relegation to League B should be in the reckoning for the winners of the previous cycle of the Nations League. It goes without saying that a result as catastrophic as that will also dampen their morale considerably in a World Cup year.
Despite their recent issues at the back and the lack of a clinical edge, France have at least been prolific and consistent in front of the goal. They have now found the back in each of the last 23 matches across all competitions. They will be desperate in their attempts to secure a win on their return to the country’s capital and the iconic Stade de France stadium.
Kylian Mbappe, who is far from being fully fit, has urged his teammates to get ready for one final push against Croatia before they all depart for relaxing holidays after what has been a jaded and exhausting European season. However, Croatia will be in no mood to take it easy and see their strong momentum suffering a hit.
Before the previous round of the Nations League, Croatia had an identical record to that of France ahead of their trip to Copenhagen. However, they ended up posting their first victory in the current cycle with smart alterations in midfield and at the right time. It completely changed the shape of the game in favour of the Chequered Ones as they went on to defeat hosts Denmark 1-0 at the Parken Stadium.
European stalwarts Mateo Kovacic and Luka Modric came onto the pitch in the second half to breathe new life into the Croatian playing XI. Mario Pasalic scored the all-important winning goal in the 69th minute of the match that Dalic felt his side ‘really deserved’ to come out on top
The runners-up in the 2018 World Cup are now sitting in third place in their group and have a two-point lead over France. However, a defeat in Saint-Denis will drop them back into the relegation zone. Croatia have already held France to a draw earlier this month and they will be backing themselves to at least repeat them once again, even if they might have to pull that off on foreign soil.
While Zlatko Dalic did have to contend with a 3-0 loss to Austria at the beginning of the month, it represents the Chequered Ones’ only defeat in the last 12 matches across all competitions since their exit from Euro 2020. Croatia have also been in marvelous form on the road and each of their last four matches away from home have ended in victory.
FRA vs CRO, UEFA Nations League
Date: 14th June, 2022
Time: 12:15 AM IST
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
France Nations League form:
France form (all competitions):
Croatia Nations League form:
Croatia form (all competitions):
France wins: 6
Croatia wins: 0
France Team News: Didier Deschamps was immensely fortunate that Kylian Mbappe was fit enough to enter the last 30 minutes of the contest. It was his goal that avoided yet another calamitous loss, this time at the hands of Austria.
Midfield engine N’Golo Kante is still struggling from a knee injury and has left the French camp. Lucas Hernandez has also exited as he is about to be a father soon.
There are optimistic suggestions that Kylian Mbappe is now ready to start the game, although he may not be fit enough to last 90 minutes. Wissam Ben Yedder, who has been well-rested recently, will also be pushing for national team action before departing for holidays.
While Ibrahima Konate made his France debut on Friday against Austria, it was a bittersweet memory. He might give way for the return of Presnel Kimpembe. Matteo Guendouzi could partner recently signed Real Madrid player Aurelien Tchouameni at the heart of the midfield while the impressive Christopher Nkunku will push for a place upfront with Kylian Mbappe.
Croatia Team News: Having lost Ivan Perisic and Josko Gvardiol due to injury earlier this month, Croatia have not had fresher concerns and that streak continued on their trip to Copenhagen as well. With that being said, however, left-backs Borna Barisic and Borna Sosa were both absent from the squad on Friday.
As a result, Josip Juranovic will be expected to start on the left flank once again. Meanwhile, Domagoj Vida and Duje Caleta Car are no strangers to fierce and intense clashes and will be expected to hold down the fort at the heart of the defence once again.
Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic will also be expected to start in midfield. Andrej Kramaric is expected to pip Ante Budimir in the battle for who leads the frontline in this game.
France possible starting lineup:
Maignan; Kounde, Saliba, Kimpembe; Clauss, Guendouzi, Tchouameni, T. Hernandez; Nkunku; Mbappe, Ben Yedder
Croatia possible starting lineup:
Livakovic; Stanisic, Vida, Caleta-Car, Juranovic; Modric, Kovacic; Vlasic, Pasalic, Orsic; Kramaric
It’s no secret that Zlatko Dalic will have to make the most out of the tired legs of his defenders once again as they face a fearsome attacking prospect. France have the luxury of rotating players all over the park and still possessing a threat that few other sides can match. Les Bleus will be desperate to close the current international break with a victory and three points here will also help them to lift themselves from the bottom of the table.
Croatia, meanwhile, will be hoping to at least secure a point for their troubles on their trip to France. With Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic dictating things at the centre of the park, it might just prove to be feasible in the end.