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Brazil friendly to test French progress since World Cup

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-02-08

French coach Laurent Blanc will use Wednesday's friendly against Brazil to test his squad and measure their progress. Without Samir Nasri and Mathieu Valbuena, Yoan Gourcuff (pictured) will have the opportunity to win back his leadership in midfield.

REUTERS - France will use Wednesday's friendly against Brazil as a chance to measure themselves against the best and gauge their progress since last year's disastrous World Cup.

The 1998 World Cup winners have not fully recovered from their first round exit and off-field controversies in South Africa but are on the right track after a 2-1 win in England last November and some solid Euro 2012 qualifying results.

Coach Laurent Blanc, who famously missed the 1998 final against Brazil after being controversially sent off in the semi-final, said his players were preparing for a tough game.

"As a player, you don't have many opportunities to face Brazil in your career," Blanc told reporters. "They are one of the two best teams in the world. It's going to be difficult. Brazil have a multitude of good players. To measure oneself against the best is the best way to make progress. It will be a good gauge," he added.

France's last clash with Brazil was a 1-0 win in the 2006 World Cup quarter-finals, and Blanc's team top their Euro 2012 qualifying Group D with their next match against Luxembourg on March 25. Blanc has chosen to keep faith in players such as Olympique Lyon's Yoann Gourcuff, Girondins Bordeaux's Alou Diarra and Loic Remy of Olympique Marseille, despite some under-par performances by the trio.

"I know these players very well. I know what they are capable of, even if they haven't shown it in a while. "It is up to us to show them that we are counting on them, that they are important. It is also my role to make them feel confident again."

Blanc also chose to leave out Patrice Evra despite the left back having completed his five-match ban for his role in the players' strike in South Africa.

For Brazil Inter Milan goalkeeper Julio Cesar is back for the first time since the team's disappointing World Cup exit at the hands of finalists the Netherlands in the last eight.

"This was already part of our plans and it's with happiness that I call up Julio Cesar for the first time", coach Mano Menezes said. However there was no room for Kaka, the Real Madrid player deemed not fit enough by Menezes having only just returned following several months on the sidelines through injury.

The squad consists entirely of players based in Europe as Menezes said home players were only just getting back into match fitness at the start of the 2011 season.

Probable teams:

France: Hugo Lloris; Eric Abidal, Adil Rami, Philippe Mexes, Bacary Sagna; Yann M'Vila, Alou Diarra, Yoann Gourcuff, Florent Malouda; Kevin Gameiro, Karim Benzema

Brazil: Julio Cesar; Daniel Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo; Ramires, Lucas, Elias; Hernanes, Robinho, Alexandre Pato

Date created : 2011-02-08


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