Preview: France vs. Bulgaria

Preview: France vs. Bulgaria

France finalise their preparations for Euro 2020 on Tuesday when they welcome Bulgaria to the Stade de France for a friendly encounter.

Les Bleus eased past 10-man Wales 3-0 in their most recent battle, while Bulgaria’s misfortune on the road continued with a 1-0 defeat to Russia last time out.

Despite Daniel James’s admission that France urged referee Luis Godinho not to send Neco Williams off for a deliberate handball in the area, Wales were ultimately a man down after 26 minutes against the world champions, although Danny Ward produced a fine save to keep out Karim Benzema’s spot kick.

However, Didier Deschamps’s side did go a goal to the good before half time as Kylian Mbappe was on hand to tap home from Adrien Rabiot’s parried effort, and further strikes from Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele in the second period ultimately saw France to a routine victory.

Wales did have their moments, though – even after Williams’s controversial red card and subsequent fallout after the game – but Deschamps has now overseen three consecutive victories and clean sheets with the world champions ahead of Euro 2020.

Furthermore, Les Bleus’ ranks have been bolstered by the returns of Kurt Zouma, Olivier Giroud and N’Golo Kante following their triumphant exploits in the Champions League – with each member of the trio receiving a warm welcome upon arrival into camp – and a six-day break in between matches is just what the doctor ordered for France.

France’s home record is far from perfect – with two wins from their last five on familiar territory – but looking ahead to the Euros group of death with Germany, Portugal and Hungary means that Deschamps’s side have all the motivation they need to sweep aside a dispirited Bulgaria.

It has been over two-and-a-half years since Bulgaria last managed to win away from home, and while the absence of full stadiums and raucous crowds has seemingly wiped out the home advantage phenomenon, Yasen Petrov’s side could not break that duck against Russia.

Bulgaria held their own for 84 minutes on Saturday evening, but substitute Aleksandr Sobolev won the game from the spot in the 84th minute to undo all of the Lions’ hard work and extend their winless run across all competitions to seven matches.

After their Euro 2020 qualification period ended in abject failure, Bulgaria have hardly started their bid to make the 2022 World Cup finals in better fashion, taking one point from their opening three games as they somehow attempt to build momentum before September’s return to international action.

However, the Lions have only managed to claim one win from their 14 matches in all competitions since the start of 2020 – a 3-0 success over Gibraltar in a friendly – and Petrov’s crop must produce the performances of their lives if they are to claim the shock win of all shock wins against the world champions.

Bulgaria managed to beat France three times on the bounce between 1985 and 1993, but Les Bleus have since claimed three successive wins of their own in this fixture, most recently prevailing 1-0 during qualification for the 2018 World Cup thanks to a third-minute strike from the forgotten man Blaise Matuidi.

France International Friendlies form:
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France form (all competitions):
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Bulgaria International Friendlies form:
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Bulgaria form (all competitions):
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