Conserving form on France’s agenda against desperate Tunisia
France will look to keep their World Cup momentum going when they face Tunisia even though they have qualified for the knockout stages, and coach Didier Deschamps will likely make changes for the game on Wednesday.
The defending champions advanced to the last 16 after a 4-1 win against Australia and a 2-1 victory over Denmark. Only an improbable combination of results would prevent them from sealing top spot in Group D.
"The team who will play tomorrow will do everything to get the best possible result, even if I have this possibility to shuffle things around," Deschamps told a news conference on Tuesday.
"We're expecting a tough game. They're going to give everything and will be backed by a big number of fans who came to Qatar, but that's the kind of games we live for,"
The coach is expected to change at least half of the side who started against Denmark. The big question mark is whether Kylian Mbappe, who is chasing records in Qatar after scoring three goals and four in the 2018 World Cup, will be given a rest he might not want.
"Physically he is very well but you guys are saying I could have him play to preserve his ego," said Deschamps.
"Does he want to play? You guys don't know but I know. He doesn't have (that kind of) ego. He's part of a collective project and of course he has this capacity to be in the limelight because he's decisive but he's not 18 anymore."
France, however, will not take things lightly at the Education Stadium.
"The momentum comes with results. The fact that we're already through like Brazil and Portugal gives us a bit of leeway but we are not going to be relaxed," said Deschamps.
Midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni is expecting a tough challenge from Tunisia, who must win to stand a chance of progressing in what Deschamps called an away match for France.
"We're expecting a tough game. They're going to give everything and will be backed by a big number of fans who came to Qatar, but that's the kind of games we live for," said Tchouameni, who is also likely to be rested alongside Adrien Rabiot, which means Deschamps could give Real Madrid midfielder Eduardo Camavinga a run.