France host Moldova on Thursday evening as they look to secure their place at next summer's European Championships, claim agencies. Didier Deschamps' men are currently second in the group behind Turkey and they will assure qualification with at least a point from their final two qualifiers.
Although Les Bleus have not always fired on all cylinders during this current campaign, the World Cup winners are finding their groove and they can secure their spot at Euro 2020 with a win at home on Thursday. With that in mind, Deschamps is likely to bring back players that missed their most recent qualifiers against Iceland and Turkey like Kylian Mbappe and Leo Dubois.
France's 4-2-3-1 gives them additional numbers in midfield, which will be essential against a Moldovan side that are expected to sit back very deep and work a low block, while deploying Kingsley Coman, Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann just behind Wissam Ben Yedder means that they will always have a lot of movement in the final third, enabling them to create better chances. The two sides have only met once before, with Deschamps's side emerging 4-1 winners in the reverse fixture back in March. The last international break marked one of the lowest points in the history of the Moldovan national football team as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat against Andorra.
That result left them bottom of the group after eight games and extended their losing run to five on the bounce, all without scoring. Moldova, who are now managed by Engin Firat, have scored just twice during the campaign thus far and they are currently sitting in their lowest-ever FIFA ranking position.
Firat, who has previously held managerial jobs in Iran, Turkey and South Korea, has dropped 15 of the players who were in the squad for Moldova's most recent qualifiers with Andorra and Albania. However, they are still expected to line up with a 5-3-2 or a 5-4-1 that enables them to try and keep things tight and spring the occasional counter, with Cagliari midfielder Artur Ionita the key attacking fulcrum. Paul Pogba is one of five first team regulars unavailable for this game and the one with Albania, with Aymeric Laporte, Blaise Matuidi, Lucas Hernandez and Hugo Lloris also out.
Deschamps is likely to recall Dubois at left-back as he is a big fan of the Lyon defender's workrate and overall contribution to the team, while Tanguy Ndombele will be pushing for a start alongside Corentin Tolisso at the base of the midfield. Although Olivier Giroud has scored three in his last four for the national team, Ben Yedder's recent form and greater movement should see him get the nod up front.
Firan has included four uncapped players in this squad as he looks to build and develop Moldova for the future.
The Eastern European side remain without captain Alexandru Epureanu at the back but they are boosted by the return of the experienced Igor Armas, who will offer Pacos de Ferreira's promising left-back Oleg Reabciuk some cover on the left side of the defence.
Although it would be reasonable to expect Moldova to tighten up somewhat after that Andorra defeat, France's need for a win and their far superior resources should see them coast home relatively easily.