Sweden vs France - Lloris braced for 'great battle' against Group A rivals Sweden

Posted Friday, June 09, 2017 by PA

France captain Hugo Lloris and manager Didier Deschamps have sounded warnings about the danger Sweden will pose in Stockholm on Friday evening.

Les Bleus are in a strong position to qualify automatically for next year's World Cup in Russia, after taking 13 points from their opening five Group A games.

But arguably their toughest test came against Sweden at the Stade de France last November.

Emil Forsberg put the visitors ahead early in the second half on that occasion, only for Paul Pogba and Dimitri Payet to strike back and hand the hosts a 2-1 victory.

Defeat ended Sweden's unbeaten record in the group, but they sit a strong second and could overtake France with a home victory in their second meeting in the preliminaries.

"It's an important match," said Lloris. "We have to consider it vital against a direct rival.

"It's going to be like a great battle. Everyone is ready and we will need a great performance individually and collectively.

"Sweden gave us problems in the first game, they surprised us. It's a young generation. We'll need to be on our game against a young and ambitious side. Their speed and their fluidity caused us lots of problems."

Lloris said Sweden were "a bit different now" following the retirements of stalwarts Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kim Kallstrom from the international scene.

He also highlighted France's 1-0 win over Holland in Amsterdam last October as an example of the resilience Deschamps' side can show away from home.

"We have to make the difference like we did against Holland," he said.

Lloris said there were signs of intense effort in training, with "everyone wanting to contribute to the success of the France team", particularly given the incentive of appearing at a World Cup.

Deschamps said Sweden were a side that showed "very good organisation" and noted the pace and ball-striking of Forsberg as a threat.

He said the Swedes were a "solid and athletic team who know their football well", pointing out their under-21 team are the reigning European champions.

"Collectively they're a strong team," Deschamps added, speaking at a press conference shown on lequipe.fr.

The Sweden team have French league insiders to call upon, notably Toulouse forward Ola Toivonen, who also previously played at Rennes.

Toivonen says the match is a crucial one for France, and he anticipated the respect that was later demonstrated by the comments from Lloris and Deschamps.

The 30-year-old Toivonen said: "This is a very important game for them. If they get a good result they take a step towards qualifying from the group. I think they have a lot of respect for us Swedes, especially when they remember the match in Paris."

Looking back on that tight clash in November, and what Sweden took from the occasion, Toivonen added: "Confidence rose in the team."

Teenage Monaco forward Kylian Mbappe could have an important role to play, and Toivonen recognises the threat posed by the in-demand youngster.

Europe's top clubs are closely watching Mbappe, and the 18-year-old could move on from the Champions League semi-finalists before long.

Toivonen said: "Mbappe is an incredible player to be just 18, Totally awesome. I don't think people understand how good he is. He is quick, very quick over the first few metres and a skilful finisher. Now he has also gained experience of big matches. He's a player to watch out for."

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