The time to prepare for Euro 2016 is quickly coming to an end, and every team involved needs to use what time is left as effectively as possible. That especially includes France, who as hosts didn't have to go through the grueling qualification process, instead spending the last 18 months playing friendlies while the other 23 teams, including Russia, duked it out for spots in the tournament.
That makes performing well in these matches vital, giving France the chance to hone their edge in competition with teams they could be facing come the summer. Too often we see host nations come into these major tournaments without that edge, then they promptly get washed out because when the going got tough, they didn't have that well of resolve to dip into, one that can only be earned by facing top competition in games that count. This game doesn't count, either, but it should be a stern enough test to show us whether or not France will have what it takes when things start to not go their way.
Key France player -- Paul Pogba
Say what you will about Pogba's skill and grace -- and there's plenty to say about those -- France will instead be relying on the more powerful side of Pogba's game in this match. The Juventus midfielder will be facing off against a very physical Russian midfield, and he represents France's best chance at breaking that midfield down. Other French midfielders like Blaise Matuidi or Yohan Cabaye can keep up physically, but Pogba also brings that creative edge to exploit any holes that he can create. A lot is riding on Pogba in this match, and how well he steps up to the plate will determine how far France go -- not just in this match, but in the tournament as a whole.
Key Russia player-- Aleksandr Kokorin
Kokorin has the potential to be a fantastic striker for Russia, but his actual on-field performance has been wildly inconsistent with the national team. He needs to figure out what he needs to do in order to consistently be a dangerous threat for his team and this match against France is a good place to try to do that. The French defense is tough and strong, and if he can find a way to beat them and play well, then there are few national team-level defenses that he can't perform well against. If he does that, Russia and their fans will feel much more confident heading into Euro 2016.
Match Date/Time: Tuesday, 3 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. local
Venue: Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France
TV: TF1 (France), Channel One (Russia)
Online: ESPN3 (U.S.)