BELGRADE (AFP) – France coach Didier Deschamps is set to make seven changes to the side that beat Spain as he expects a stiff friendly test against Serbia in Belgrade on Sunday.
As hosts, France need not worry about qualifying for Euro 2016, but got their two-year run of friendly matches off to a winning start with a 1-0 success against Spain in Paris on Thursday.
To prepare for their home tournament, France have been partnered with the five-team Euro 2016 Group I, which enables them to play friendlies against these countries – Portugal, Denmark, Serbia, Armenia and Albania – without the results counting for qualification.
And Deschamps said that he remained wary of Serbia who have not played a major championship final since the 2010 World Cup, and are now coached by Dutchman Dick Advocaat.
“I’ve looked at this Serbia team quite a lot,” said Deschamps.
“They’ve changed coach and when you look at them position by position, most play for big foreign clubs. Individually this team has a lot of qualities. It’s good for us, we’ll be up against rivals who are going to give the best of themselves. It’s good for us to be tested.”
Deschamps is expected to bring in Bacary Sagna, Jeremy Mathieu, Lucas Digne, Yohan Cabaye, Morgan Schneiderlin, Loic Remy and Remy Cabella who were all on the bench at the Stade de France on Thursday.
“I consider it’s normal to give playing time to all players who are here. It will not be the same team,” he said.
Deschamps took over Les Bleus in 2012 and helped them book their ticket to the World Cup finals, with a stunning comeback in their play-off against Ukraine, before reaching the quarter-finals in Brazil where they lost to Germany.
The former France captain admitted that the team had been “forged in difficulty” with “the return match (Ukraine) of the play-off changing the history of the players, me and my staff.”
“Being at the World Cup, spending 50 days together, this experience is important and nothing can replace it,” he explained.
“But that doesn’t mean that because some weren’t there that they can’t be there in 2016. The door is open. It’s more up to those who are there to ensure that the newcomers can be integrated and feel good in this group.”