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Giroud expects bruising battle

France striker Olivier Giroud is relishing the physical challenge which awaits should he be chosen to lead the line in the World Cup opener against Honduras.

The Group E minnows showed in their warm-up game against England that they are unlikely to shirk a tackle and more of the same is likely to be in store for Les Bleus in Porto Alegre on Sunday.

That will not worry burly Arsenal frontman Giroud, who told L’Equipe: “I like the contact and the physical battle. It is an asset for me against English defences.”

The absence of talisman Franck Ribery, who did not travel to Brazil due to a back injury, has created a selection dilemma for coach Didier Deschamps. Montpellier’s Remy Cabella replaced the Bayern Munich star in the squad but Real Sociedad’s Antoine Griezmann is the likeliest man to take on Ribery’s role.

France’s build-up suggested Deschamps may instead pair Giroud and Loic Remy in a front two but, asked if the former’s physicality will be an asset, the coach was non-committal. “It could be,” he said. “He is used to facing that in the Premier League. But if we look at the recent past, he had difficulty against the Ukrainian defence (in the World Cup qualifying play-off), who also played very solidly.”

Honduras are unlikely to tone down their uncompromising approach, if forward Jerry Bengtsson’s pre-match comments are any indication.The Central American side were unimpressed by a Canal+ feature, originally screened in February, entitled “Les miserables du Honduras”, which painted a grim picture of the country’s football as well as drawing attention to crowd violence in its domestic league.

Coach Luis Fernando Suarez has used the footage to motivate his side and Bengtsson said, in comments reported by Canal+: “There will be a bit of rancour for us in the match against France.“We will give our all to show that we are not miserable’. They will see what we can do.”

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