The difference in stakes could hardly be more dramatic between the Saturday combatants at the Groupama Stadium in Lyon.
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For the United States, it’s the next baby steps forward in the long, slow rebuild from this Fall’s World Cup qualifying failure, and the first game since Earnie Stewart was hired as USMNT general manager. It’s also the first meeting with France since 2011.
For France, it’s a send-off to Russia, the final match before a tournament many expect could end with Didier Deschamps’ men lifting the World Cup Trophy.
The French have looked quite good in their run-up to Russia, beating Ireland 2-0 and Italy 3-1 heading into Saturday.
Five different goal scorers have accounted for France’s markers, though Nabil Fekir may not play a prominent role in the match if he’s zipping off to Liverpool on Friday.
France’s XI is star-studded. Even the casual soccer fan has probably heard of more than half the lineup: Pogba, Kante, Griezmann, Mbappe, Lloris, Dembele.
On paper, turf, and maybe water, the young United States team will be expected to be lambs to the slaughter in Lyon. Only five players have double-digit caps. Thirteen have three or fewer.
It’s another chance for Dave Sarachan’s men to put themselves in the shop window. Managers from all over the world have their eyes on France, and will be focused on so many young players in Deschamps’ squad like Thomas Lemar, Mbappe, and Benjamin Pavard.
Kickoff from Lyon is 3 p.m. ET.