France vs. Honduras, 2014 World Cup preview: Les Bleus should overpower minnows

France should overpower Honduras in their opening game, as the French arrive at the tournament meaning serious business.

SB Nation's 2014 World Cup Bracket'

France may have distracted everybody with their hilariously bad showings at previous World Cups, but they've quietly put together a brilliant side that might actually have enough to go on and win the thing. They probably have the best midfield at the tournament, and they've well-stocked in defence and attack even without Franck Ribery. Because of that, they could well go very far in this tournament, and their first task should be an easy one in dispatching Honduras.

Team news

Franck Ribery didn't make it for France, and it's probably that Mathieu Valbuena will start in his stead. Another question will be the defensive partnership - Laurent Koscielny will be one, but neither Mamadou Sakho or Raphael Varane had particularly great seasons. France could instead turn to Eliaquim Mangala, the very-much in-demand Porto centre-back. 4-3-3 will undoubtedly be the formation, and it looks like midfield has been settled upon - Paul Pogba, Yohan Cabaye and Blaise Matuidi, while the other two attacking spots will go to Karim Benzema and Antoine Griezmann.

Meanwhile for Honduras, we sadly don't get to see a Scottish third-tier playing at the World Cup as Arnold Peralta misses out through injury. a 4-4-2 formation is most likely, spearheaded by Carlo Costly and Jerry Bengtson, with Roger Espinoza holding things together in midfield.

Projected lineups

France (4-3-3): Hugo Lloris; Mathieu Debuchy, Eliaquim Mangala, Laurent Koscielny, Patrice Evra; Yohan Cabaye, Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi; Mathieu Valbuena, Karim Benzema, Antoine Griezmann.

Honduras (4-4-2): Noel Valladares; Brayan Beckeles, Victor Bernandez, Maynor Figueroa, Emmanuel Izaguirre; Luis Garrido, Wilson Palacios, Juan Carlos Garcia, Roger Espinoza; Carlo Costly, Jerry Bengston.

Key matchups

Wilson Palacios vs. the World

It's going to be hard for anyone to stop this France midfield from just trampling over everything, so spare a thought for Wilson Palacios, who will be trying to keep them all at bay mostly by himself. France's success depends on other factors too, but they're likely to give a terrifying display of their power, goals, and creativity in midfield here unless Palacious puts in a superhuman performance.

Luis Garrido vs. Patrice Evra

Evra has been a great full-back for the best part of a decade now, but he can be gotten at defensively, particularly on the counter, in his dotage. Since Honduras will likely be playing on the counter, they'll be hoping they can get some change out of the Manchester United man when they attack down the flank.

Antoine Griezmann and Mathieu Valbuena versus the Honduras defence

With both players either side of Karim Benzema somewhat flaky in terms of consistency, it will only add to the worry that France don't quite have enough up front to win this tournament. Yet both of them can do their confidence the world of good by getting off to a good start against inferior opposition here.

Prediction

France should be fired up for this and they'll want to lay down a marker that they mean business at this tournament. They should be far too strong for Honduras and win accordingly. 4-0 France.

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