The future of France vs the future of Spain
France-Spain might not be a tournament game, but that's not to say it isn't an official one. It is recognised by Fifa as a match between national teams and as such it counts towards the Fifa ranking, in which we have been gradually slipping from our previous position of first down to our current 10th. France are sixth. I make a note of that as a counter to the way we tend to shrug our shoulders when we're dealing with a non-competitive fixture, which in effect is what this is. But that shouldn't detract from the pedigree of the two sides facing each other in Paris and whose shared history lends a little je ne sais pas to the affair, tournament or no tournament.
However, it must be assumed that Julen Lopetegui won't field his strongest team, from one to 14, which consists of the players who defeated Israel last week. It is more likely that with the best of intentions he will use a good number of those players with who he won the European under-21 Championship. Lopetegui is trying to leap from one charging horse to another; from what we once were under Luis Aragonés and Vicente del Bosque but are no longer, to what we could be and hope that we will be, a metamorphosis that should be based on that under-21 side, plus one or two who came along later like Gerard Deulofeu, whose career can either explode or splutter out, depending on him; or Jesé, who isn't in the squad but remains in the waiting room.
I write this without knowing what side Lopetegui will put out (secrecy glosses over the insecurity of most coaches) but it's easy to imagine that he will choose this game as a hinge between generations. Or to put it another way, by consecrating those players with whom he triumphed in 2013. France can also be expected to make a few tweaks, including the chance to watch Kylian Mbappé, the newest star of world football, from the outset: the future of France against the future of Spain. I don't use that phrase as a propaganda tool but as a genuinely excited look ahead to a friendly game that is an official fixture and that will also feature the video assistant referee as a side point of interest.
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