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FIFA World Cup Preview: France v Honduras

14 June 2014 15:58

France begin the quest to exorcise the demons of four years ago in their FIFA World Cup opener against Honduras on Sunday.

The 1998 world champions had been considered among the favourites in South Africa in 2010, but France endured a dismal campaign, claiming just one point and finishing bottom of their group in a tournament that was marred by off-field tensions in the camp.

France's squad is much-changed from the one that failed so spectacularly and are largely expected to progress as Group E winners under Didier Deschamps.

The abysmal 2010 campaign featured slip-ups against Mexico and hosts South Africa, meaning that France will be wary of avoiding another shock against a Honduras side viewed as outsiders in the group.

And, with Franck Ribery – star of a relatively impressive qualifying campaign – out of the tournament with a back injury, there is reason for Honduras to be confident of earning a maiden World Cup win in what is the first meeting between the two sides.

Filling the void left by Ribery will be Deschamps' main concern heading into the clash at Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre, although the former Marseille coach has already asserted that he "knows his best line-up" for the encounter.

Whether that line-up includes Karim Benzema or Antoine Griezmann remains to be seen, but both should be in contention to take Ribery's spot on the left flank after netting a brace apiece in the 8-0 rout of Jamaica last Sunday.

Meanwhile, Honduras' preparations for the tournament were hit when midfielder Arnold Peralta was ruled out with a thigh injury, but, with strikers Jerry Bengtson and Carlo Costly having scored 16 goals between them in as many qualifiers, Luis Fernando Suarez's men may have the firepower up front to cause France problems.

The Central American nation have never won a game at the World Cup, bowing out in the group stages in 1982 and 2010. However, following their hard-fought 0-0 friendly draw with England last Saturday, Deschamps is expecting a combative approach from Honduras.

"They have the aptitude for going into combat, we're expecting that," Deschamps said.

"It's one of the characteristics of this team. I saw their last match against England."

France will be widely anticipated to win by a handsome margin, but Suarez has already warned against underestimating his side.

"People underestimate us, so we can do this," Suarez said.

"The group is evenly matched, there are going to be good possibilities for everyone.

"In the end, our ambition is to improve on what Honduras has done in the World Cup before. Our challenge is to get into the next round."

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Info

3 - 0

Competition
World Cup
Date
15 June 2014
Game week
1
Kick-off
21:00
Half-time
1 - 0
Full-time
3 - 0

Goals

K. Benzema (PG) 45'  
1 - 0
N. Valladares (OG) 48'  
2 - 0
K. Benzema 72'
(assist by P. Evra) 
3 - 0

Lineups

# Player Bookings
1
2
3 7'
5
4
14
8
6 45+2'
19 27'
10 45' 72'
11
Coach: D. Deschamps

Substitutes

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