Didier Deschamps has warned Russia-bound France not to under-estimate the Republic of Ireland as they build towards their World Cup adventure.
The sides meet at the Stade de France on Monday evening, with Deschamps and his players three friendlies away from the finals and Ireland knowing their season will draw to a close with next Saturday’s clash with the USA.
However, the France boss knows even a Republic team without most of the men who gave his men a fright in the last 16 of Euro 2016 will not run out simply to make up the numbers.
Asked if he was hoping for a similar result to the 4-0 drubbing they handed out to Norway before the 2014 finals, the manager said: “I don’t want the Irish journalists to think that we chose Ireland because we thought we were going to have fun and we were going to win.
“We played Ireland at the Euros and it was very hard. We chose this team because they have the same profile as the ones we are going to face at the World Cup, and it’s going to be a tough game, I can tell you that.”
Midfielder Blaise Matuidi is equally aware what to expect from Martin O’Neill’s men, and dismissed the fear of picking up an injury in a physical encounter which could end his dreams for the next few weeks.
Matuidi said: “You try not to think about it. We have to prepare for the World Cup and those things can happen. You just have to play your own game.
“The most important thing for us is to feel good on the pitch, really, feel prepared for the World Cup and ready to go.
“If we play well, we might get a good result. We just want to play well, that’s the most important thing for us.”
If France do turn on the style, Ireland may well find themselves having to deal with teenage starlet Kylian Mbappe, a man on whom Deschamps is refusing to place any limits.
Asked if Mbappe could be his number nine, he replied: “Why number nine? He’s a forward, he can move, he has the freedom to go and decide when he’s in a central position and vice-versa.
“He’s just a forward. He can dribble, he has great speed, so he can do everything. Why would you have him stay in the axis position?”
Meanwhile, Deschamps delivered a withering response to Paris St Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot after he issued an open letter revealing his reasons for asking to be taken off the stand-by list.
He said: “I have talked enough about Adrien Rabiot. Anyone can have his own idea about this situation. I just invite you to look at how he played for the French team last season. That’s all I’m going to say about it.”