France

Pogba and De Bruyne eye Zidane path

France are two wins away from emulating their celebrated class of 1998, who prevailed 3-0 in the World Cup final against Brazil on home soil thanks largely to a first-half brace from Zidane.

The ex-Juventus and Real Madrid great was only just getting started.

Uruguay 0 France 2

Following an opening passage high on energy but bereft of quality, Varane glanced home a Griezmann free-kick to open the scoring before the Atletico Madrid man doubled France's advantage just after the hour mark in a moment to forget for Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.

Griezmann found space 25 yards out and fired in a shot that should have been routine for Muslera but the ball slipped through his grasp and into the net.

Preview: France v Argentina

Didier Deschamps' men have struggled to hit top gear in the World Cup so far, although they still managed to top Group C with seven points from three games. However, a turgid goalless draw with Denmark on Tuesday - a stalemate that ensured France finished first and Denmark qualified - attracted plenty of negative headlines.

Next up is a blockbuster clash with Argentina - and Umtiti's Barcelona club-mate Lionel Messi - in the last 16 on Saturday and the former Lyon man says only the result counts in Kazan.

France 1 Peru 0

France were fortunate in their 2-1 opening win over Australia and they had slices of luck again at the Ekaterinburg Arena on Thursday.

Mbappe's goal, which came from close-range after Olivier Giroud's shot took a wicked deflection to beat goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, saw the 19-year-old become the youngest player to score for France at a major international tournament.

As they did in losing narrowly to Denmark, Peru had plenty of chances, returning captain Paolo Guerrero firing at Hugo Lloris and Pedro Aquino clipping the post with a super strike from range.

Four new faces for All Blacks in Dunedin, France drop skipper

With the series already wrapped up, coach Steve Hansen has made 11 changes to the match-day 23 to both cover injuries and to give four new players a taste of Test rugby.

Flanker Shannon Frizell and centre Jack Goodhue will make their debuts in the run-on side with Jackson Hemopo and Richie Mo'unga to come off the bench.

From the side which won the second Test in Wellington 26-13 last weekend, Beauden Barrett, Liam Squire and Vaea Fifita were ruled out because of injury.

Saint-Andre France will grow again

Benjamin Fall's early red card - rescinded by a World Rugby judicial committee 48 hours later - left Les Bleus a man light in the second Test against an All Blacks side who, to say the least, have had their number in recent years. At the Westpac Stadium in Wellington - a venue known as 'The Cake Tin' - the visitors were cooked after 12 minutes, eventually going down 26-13 to lose the series with a game to spare.

All Blacks cruise past France again

The All Blacks had taken control in Auckland last week after Paul Gabrillagues was contentiously sin-binned, but there could have been few complaints about Benjamin Fall's 12th-minute red card for a challenge on Beauden Barrett in this one.

Barrett was unable to continue, yet New Zealand were able to kick on and seal a second comfortable victory without really impressing.

Five new faces for France against unchanged All Blacks

France were overwhelmed in the opening match of their three-Test series against the All Blacks, losing 52-11 at Eden Park.

Back-row duo Judicael Cancoriet and Fabien Sanconnie make way for Mathieu Babillot and Kelian Galletier, while Bernard Le Roux starts ahead of Paul Gabrillagues at lock.

In the backs, the injured Remy Grosso makes way for Gael Fickou, and Benjamin Fall takes Maxime Medard's position at full-back for the clash in Wellington.

Mbappe hurt in France training

The 19-year-old forward appeared to hurt his left ankle in a tackle from defender Adil Rami during a practice match on Tuesday.

Mbappe, who is expected to be a starter in Russia, received treatment from support staff and attempted to play on before leaving the session, placing him in doubt for Saturday's clash with the Socceroos.

Didier Deschamps will hope the knock is only a minor concern after losing both Laurent Koscielny and Dimitri Payet to injury prior to selection of the final 23.

France's other Group C opponents are Denmark and Peru.

     

Underdone All Blacks captain not concerned

Whitelock, who is making his 97th test appearance and is standing in for regular captain Kieran Read, has not played since May 12 due to concussion symptoms.

"I've had a couple of weeks where I haven't played," Whitelock said. "It's frustrating, I always want to be out there if I'm 100 percent fit or even if I'm not.

"At times I'm going to be blowing hard but I think that's normal no matter where you are in a test match."