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Preview: France vs. Armenia

Sports Mole previews all of the action as Euro 2016 hosts France prepare to face visitors Armenia in a friendly clash at the Allianz Riviera in Nice.

France continue their preparations for Euro 2016 on Thursday night as they welcome visiting Armenia to the Allianz Riviera for an international friendly.

Didier Deschamps still appears to be in the process of selecting his best eleven for next year's showpiece, while Armenia are already out of contention for qualification.


France's midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin (C) kicks the ball during the Euro 2016 friendly football match France vs Serbia at the Matmut Atlantique stadium in Bordeaux on September 7, 2015.© Getty Images

The Euro 2016 hosts go into the tournament without the need for qualification, and have instead been preparing for the competition with a number of friendlies.

Deschamps has endured a period of both ups and downs this year given that France have already suffered defeats at the hands of Albania, Belgium and Brazil in international fixtures.

Les Bleus have responded to that last lacklustre defeat against Albania in June by moving on to beat Portugal and Serbia at home. Despite the victories, some sections of the French support have criticised a number of players, including Olivier Giroud who was booed off in the country's most recent victory over Serbia last month.

With very little pressure on his shoulders prior to the tournament, Deschamps will mainly be focusing on figuring out his best eleven before the start of the competition next year.

The coach has a plethora of options to choose from in midfield and at the back, although questions still need to be answered going forward.

Giroud does not seem to be a fan favourite at the moment, and Deschamps has since recalled Alexandre Lacazette to see exactly what the currently out-of-form Lyon striker can bring to the table. As it stands, it looks likely that Antoine Griezmann and Karim Benzema will form part France's preferred forward line for the tournament.

Thursday's fixture will be less about how many France score and more about how they apply themselves. Les Bleus will want to keep their fans onside with a high-scoring demolition, but Deschamps will more likely be interested in seeing his charges implementing his tactics properly ahead of the looming tournament.

Recent form: LWLLWW


Armenia's national football team defender Levon Hayrapetyan vies with Bulgaria's national football team midfielder Simeon Slavchev during their FIFA 2014 World Cup Group B qualifying match in the Armenia's capital Yerevan, on October 11, 2013© Getty Images

Armenia are well and truly out of the running from Euro qualification as they find themselves second from bottom in Group I with just two points from seven games.

Thursday's visitors only have one fixture left to play in that group on Sunday, meaning that they have a free slot to try and put France through their paces in Nice.

Armenia have had a very difficult run of late with five defeats in their last six, but they were able to steal a point at home to qualification hopefuls Denmark in September.

Before that draw, however, Havakakan had lost five in a row while also shipping 11 goals in the process.

The national side lost coach Bernard Challandes earlier in March following a disastrous run of results, leaving current caretaker boss Sargis Hovsepyan looking to reinstall some confidence into the side ahead of future tournaments.

Hovsepyan might still harbour aspirations of a long-term career as manager of his country given that he currently stands as a previous long-standing captain of Armenia.

Games like this put little pressure on caretaker coaches and Hovsepyan will arguably be looking to show exactly what he can offer in the time that he is given in his temporary role.

Recent form: LLLLLD

Team News

France's forward Alexandre Lacazette (R) celebrates next to midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin after scoring a goal during a friendly football match between France and Denmark at the Geoffroy-Guichard stadium in Saint-Etienne on March 29, 2015© Getty Images

France will be without Benoit Tremoulinas who is missing through a recent injury, meaning that Lucas Digne has been brought back to compete for a place in defence. Paul-Georges Ntep is also missing, with the forward suffering from a thigh problem.

Giroud and Lacazette are expected to start up top, while Manchester United striker Anthony Martial will be hoping to carry his form onto the international stage and stake a place in the team at some point in the clash.

Armenia will be looking to gain some more experience together against a tough nation like France, and they could stick with almost the same starting XI as the one that competed against Denmark last month.

France possible starting lineup:
Lloris; Sagna, Mangala, Varane, Digne, Pogba, Matuidi, Schneiderlin, Valbuena, Lacazette, Giroud

Armenia possible starting lineup:
Kasparov; Andonian, Haroyan, Arzumanyan, Mkrtchyan, Pizzelli, Ghazaryan, Hovhannisyan, Movsisyan, Mkoyan, Mkhitaryan

Head To Head

Theses side have only met once in recent history, when France were able to beat Armenia 3-0 away from home. That clash saw Loic Remy, Andre-Pierre Gignac and Griezmann all able to get on the scoresheet on the road.

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We say: France 4-0 Armenia

Armenia will be boosted following their recent draw with Denmark, but they do not have the required quality to prevent France running riot on home soil. Many of the current Les Bleus men will still feel like they have a point to prove to Deschamps ahead of next year's tournament, and that detail alone could spell trouble for the visitors.

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