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Preview: Argentina vs. France - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's friendly clash between Argentina and France, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Argentina will look to continue their upward trajectory when they take on France in the first of two July internationals at Malvinas Argentinas Stadium in Mendoza on Saturday.

Los Pumas will also face Tier 2 Uruguay this month, in preparation for this year's Rugby Championship, which will see them travel to take on New Zealand in mid-August.

Match preview

Argentina's Facundo Isa and Marcos Kremer celebrate after the match on October 18, 2023© Reuters

Over the past 25 years, Argentina have ascended to become a top-tier rugby nation. Currently, Los Pumas are ranked in the top 10 of the World Rugby Rankings, sat above stalwarts such as Australia and Wales.

Now under the leadership of Felipe Contepomi, who took over from Australian Michael Cheika after last year's World Cup, Los Pumas are looking to continue their progression, and the new head coach has signalled that intention by making sweeping changes to the starting lineup.

Los Pumas have not played since losing 26-23 to England which marked their joint-second-best-ever performance at the Rugby World Cup, as they finished fourth and they will now look to make their home advantage count by claiming a victory over a somewhat experimental France.

Argentina have won four of their last six matches in all competitions, although notably, three of those wins have come by no more than a 12-point margin, while the last two head-to-heads between these sides have been decided within this margin as well.

However, against Les Bleus, Los Pumas have a very poor record, winning only 14 times in 51 previous encounters, while suffering 36 defeats. One match ended level way back in 1977.

France's Gael Fickou celebrates scoring a try on March 16, 2024© Reuters

France will get their Test season underway looking to find the type of success that both their men's and women's sevens teams managed in the recently concluded tournament in Hamburg.

This series marks France's return to Argentina for the first time since 2016 when each team won one Test match apiece. France hosted Argentina in 2018 and 2021, and they also faced off at the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Tokyo.

Les Bleus have been the better side in recent years, winning each of the last four encounters against Los Pumas, though they come into this tour without their captain and one of the world's best players Antoine Dupont, who has opted to join the French Olympic squad.

However, Dupont is not the only notable absentee with Fabien Galthie having to make do without any players from Toulouse and Bordeaux-Begles, who met in the Top 14 final last weekend.

Still, France have been formidable in recent years, suffering just four defeats in their last 32 matches dating back to 2021. They also finished second behind Ireland in this year's Six Nations, a tournament they could have won if not for a draw against Italy on matchday three.

Argentina form (all competitions):

  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L

France form (all competitions):

  • L
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W

Team News

Argentina's Thomas Gallo and Juan Martin Gonzalez react on October 14, 2023© Reuters

Contepomi named a fresh-looking squad to face France, making a total of nine changes to the starting team that ran out in the third-place playoff defeat to England at the World Cup last year.

Bautista Delguy returns to the setup after missing out on the World Cup and he joins three other changes in the backs, along with Martin Bogado, Matias Moroni and scrumhalf Gonzalo Bertranou.

Notably, eight players included in the matchday squad for Argentina currently play their club rugby with French clubs, including Bautista Pedemonte, who played a pivotal role in helping Vannes earn promotion to the Top 14 next season.

While Galthie is yet to confirm his starting 15 for this match, he has named 22 uncapped players in his squad, including Munster centre Antoine Frisch, who spent last week at Les Bleus pre-tour training camp after choosing to represent France over Ireland.

Three props, including Grenoble's Regis Montagne, along with Bayonne pair Mathis Perchaud and Tevita Tatafu, did not make it from the camp to the final squad. In-form 21-year-old La Rochelle flanker Oscar Jegou has been included for the first time, despite serving a one-month ban earlier in the season for drug use.

Argentina starting lineup: 15 Martin Bogado, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Joaquin Oviedo, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Lucas Paulos, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Julian Montoya (captain), 1 Thomas Gallo

Replacements: 16 Ignacio Ruiz, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Franco Molina, 20 Bautista Pedemonte, 21 Lautaro Bazan Velez, 22 Tomas Albornoz, 23 Matias Orlando

France starting lineup: 15 Melcin Jaminet, 14 Theo Attissogbe, 13 Emilien Gailleton, 12 Antoine Frisch, 11 Lester Etien, 10 Antoine Hastoy, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Jordan Jospeh, 7 Judicael Cancoriet, 6 Ibrahim Diallo, 5 Baptiste Pesenti, 4 Pasolo Tuilagi, 3 Demba Bamba, 2 Teddy Baubigny, 1 Sebastien Taofifenua

Replacements: 16 Gaetan Barlot, 17 Jannick Tarit, 18 Giorgi Beria, 19 Georges-Henri Colombe, 20 Thomas Laclayat 21 Louis Carbonel, 22 Nathanael Hulleu, 23 Leo Berdeu

SM words green background

We say: Argentina 32-28 France

While France have been the dominant side in this contest over the years, they arrive in South America with a completely fresh-faced squad, who will have to contend with the passionate support for the home side here in Mendoza.

Argentina, while also featuring several new faces, have maintained a core of experienced heads, and we feel that if they show up ready to play on Saturday, they will be able to edge France to victory in this one.

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France's Antoine Dupont receives medical attention after sustaining an injury on September 21, 2023
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