France coach Didier Deschamps is set to drop Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann in their second group game at the ongoing European championship.
Les Bleus face Albania in Marseille on Wednesday and, while Deschamps may dress up any team changes as affording certain players a rest against the Group A outsiders, impressive performances from their replacements would leave him in a tricky position.
Manchester United forward Anthony Martial and Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman are the pair tipped for a starting spot and, motivated by the chance to retain their jersey, it would be no surprise to see them put on a show at the Stade Velodrome.
Indeed, debate has raged over the weekend following Griezmann’s ineffective display during Friday’s 2-1 win over Romania.
Influential newspaper L’Equipe has suggested that the Atletico Madrid wideman – scorer of 22 goals last season and the new poster boy of French football – will be axed along with Juventus schemer Pogba, who was also substituted in the opening game.
Deschamps, who remained tight-lipped on team selection, said: “Paul can do better obviously but I’m not disappointed in his performance. I don’t want to be too hard on him.
“The media are expecting too much from him. He has outstanding technical abilities but he’s also a player who does a lot of hard work, who wants to do well, maybe too well.”
One player certain to start is West Ham’s Dimitri Payet, scorer of that stunning late winner against the Romanians.
It is his emergence which has added to the pressure on Griezmann, who was so out of sorts in the opener that he lasted just 66 minutes before being replaced by Coman.
And when asked about Payet’s influence, Deschamps said:
“It’s very important to have Payet in this kind of form. He’s vital for us. Payet has always been decisive, now he is doing it on the international stage.”