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France vs Wales live on June 2, 2021: Will Benzema kick off his return to Les Bleus with a win?

June 2, 2021 By Ali M.
The World Cup holders are preparing for Euro 2020, taking on the Dragons in a warm-up friendly. Here's a preview of France vs Wales.

Preview

France are gearing up for their international friendly against Wales, one of the most intriguing fixtures ahead of this summer's Euro 2020 tournament. Les Bleus and the Dragons will lock horns in preparation for the European Championship, with Didier Deschamps aiming to integrate a few names into his lineup in a bid to secure continental success.

This 3:05 p.m. ET clash follows back-to-back victories for France in the UEFA World Cup qualifiers, beating Kazakhstan and Bosnia and Herzegovina after kicking off the road to Qatar 2022 with a 1-1 draw with Ukraine. The European giants will look to maintain this excellent form, having gone five games unbeaten, as they aim to add another piece of silverware to their trophy cabinet.

The 2018 World Cup success remains fresh in the memories of the fans and the players, with several of the core players remaining at the helm of the national team setup – i.e. Mbappe, Kante, Griezmann, Pogba, and Varane. Since that unforgettable victory in Russia, Les Bleus have gone on to enjoy a brilliant UEFA Nations League campaign, booking their spot in the semi-finals of the 2020/21 edition, beating the likes of Portugal, Croatia, and Sweden to earn a clash with Belgium in the last four.

Speaking of Portugal, the reigning champions of Europe will be one of France's opponents in this summer's European Championship, with Deschamps' men set to battle Cristiano and Co., Joachim Low's Germany, and Hungary in Group F – the group of death. This is why it's important Mbappe and the boys win their two games leading up to their opening fixture against Germany on June 15.

The clash with Wales will be followed up by a tie against Bulgaria as the head coach looks to get his men up to speed for the tournament. All eyes will be on Karim Benzema, with the Real Madrid superstar being called back up to the national team for the first time since 2015, ending his long exile. 

As for the Dragons, they will look to match their Euro 2016 success, going all the way to the semi-finals five years ago before losing to eventual champions Portugal. Unfortunately, Wales have undergone a huge shake up due to Ryan Giggs trial for alleged assault, with Robert Page being handed the reins until that issue is cleared up. Victory over France would be just the confidence boost they are looking for.

Team news

France: Karim Benzema is expected to don the French jersey for the first time since 2015 and will likely partner Mbappe in attack. N'Golo Kante, who won Man of the Match in the recent UEFA Champions League final, could be given a rest while highly-rated Sevilla center-back Jules Kounde could be given a chance to impress in the lineup.

Wales: Expect to see Garetg Bale, Harry Wilson and Kieffer Moore all feature. Hal Robson-Kanu will not be present at Euro 2020 while James Lawrence was forced to withdraw from the squad. Elsewhere, Aaron Ramey and Joe Allen are working on their fitness and might sit this one out.

Key stats

  • Wales have won only once in five encounters with France (D1, L3), with that sole victory coming back in 1982.

  • The last time these two sides faced off, Les Bleus won 2-0 thanks to goals from Griezmann and Giroud.

  • The Dragons boast nine victories from their last 13 matches (D2, L2).

  • Deschamps' men have triumphed in 18 of their last 23 fixtures (D3, L2).

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