France will be looking to make it six straight victories in all competitions when they welcome Ivory Coast to Marseille in an international friendly on Friday evening.
The home side have not been in action since beating Finland 2-0 in their final 2022 World Cup qualifier last November, but Ivory Coast featured two months ago at the Africa Cup of Nations, reaching the round of 16 before losing to finalists Egypt on penalties.
France hardly needed to break a sweat during their 2022 World Cup qualification campaign, picking up 18 points from their eight matches to comfortably finish top of Group D, and they are the reigning world champions, having lifted the trophy for the second time back in 2018.
There is no question that the Blues will be one of the favourites to enjoy more success in this year’s competition, and they will be desperate to bounce back from a disappointing European Championship, which saw them lose in the last-16 stage of the competition to Switzerland.
Didier Deschamps’s side also enjoyed recent success in the UEFA Nations League, beating Belgium and Spain in the semi-finals and final towards the end of last year, and the national team will be back in action in the same competition at the start of June, facing Denmark in their section opener.
France will be looking ahead to the World Cup, though, and Deschamps will view the next two friendlies against Ivory Coast and South Africa as valuable fixtures, with a number of players looking to impress in order to secure their spots in the squad for the competition in Qatar.
Les Bleus, as mentioned, are on a five-game winning run in all competitions entering this match, while they have not been beaten since losing on penalties to Switzerland at Euro 2020; the world champions have also won their last two friendlies, both 3-0, against Wales and Bulgaria.
Ivory Coast underperformed at the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year considering their talent, only reaching the last-16 stage of the competition, with Egypt beating them 5-4 on penalties after a goalless draw.
The Elephants competed in the group stage of the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups, but they failed to qualify for the 2018 edition of the tournament and will also not be present at this year’s competition, finishing second in their qualification group behind Cameroon.
Ivory Coast will take on France and England in their two March friendlies, and there is plenty to gain for Patrice Beaumelle’s side, as two positive results would place them in a confident mood moving forward.
There will also be plenty of familiar names on show for the visitors over the next two matches, and they are more than capable of matching France on Friday, with the likes of Serge Aurier, Eric Bailly, Franck Kessie, Nicolas Pepe, Wilfried Zaha and Sebastien Haller all in the squad.
Ivory Coast have not actually played a friendly since drawing 0-0 with Ghana last June, but they have only lost one of their last six non-competitive matches, with the run including wins over Tunisia, Congo DR and Burkina Faso.
France International Friendlies form:
France form (all competitions):
Ivory Coast International Friendlies form:
Ivory Coast form (all competitions):
We say: France 3-1 Ivory Coast
This has all of the makings of a very attractive international friendly, and we are predicting an entertaining match on Friday. There will be no real pressure on either side, and we are expecting goals in this contest, but France should have too much quality when it comes to the final result.