Honduras (0-0-0) vs. France (0-0-0), 3 p.m. (ET)
06/15/2014 10:40 AM
06/15/2014 10:48 AM
Porto Alegre, Brazil (SportsNetwork.com) - After crashing out of the 2010 World Cup, France will get its first chance to put that disappointment in the past on Sunday against Honduras in Group E play at the Estadio Beira-Rio.
The French were on the verge of missing the 2014 tournament altogether, but Didier Deschamps men pulled a minor miracle in its two-legged playoff against Ukraine.
Despite falling behind 2-0 in the first leg, the French rebounded in a big way with a 3-0 second-leg victory thanks to a pair of goals from an unlikely source in Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho.
Deschamps will hope that version of France shows up at Brazil, because if it does, this team could easily find its way into the quarterfinals and beyond.
But France will be shorthanded as star winger Franck Ribery was ruled out of the tournament due to a back injury.
The Bayern Munich man was a key member of France's 2006 and 2010 World Cup teams and he finished third in the Ballon d'Or voting this past season.
Striker Karim Benzema will lead the attack along with Mathieu Valbuena, Loic Remy and Olivier Giroud.
In the middle of the park, Deschamps will count on the reliable Blaise Matuidi along with potential breakout star Paul Pogba and Yohan Cabaye.
A mix of youth and experience should serve France well as Sakho and Raphael Varane will be joined along the back line by veteran Patrice Evra, with the steady Hugo Lloris between the posts.
Honduras, meanwhile, will make its second consecutive appearance in the World Cup, and while they won't be expected to get out of the group, a first win in World Cup play is certainly possible.
In order for Honduras to have any success, the team must find a way to score goals, a task that will fall to forwards Carlo Costly and Jerry Bengtson.
Additional help in the offensive third should also be provided by Roger Espinoza and Boniek Garcia, with left back Emilio Izaguirre giving support with his ability to get forward and deliver crosses.
Defensively, Honduras did well four years ago in yielding just three goals, and that area once again figures to be a strength with Victor Bernardez and Maynor Figueroa leading a tough back line.
Honduras may not be able to break France down on Sunday, but if their defense can hold out, taking a point would be a good result.
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