FT: France 3-0 Honduras. Honduras have posed a real threat in an indirect way tonight as Les Bleus showed that they can match any side in terms of physicality. Honduras’ response to Palacios’ red card was to get miserable and try and take it out on the French team. France deserve the win, but they are not even into 3rd gear yet. Exciting times ahead and a job well done.
21:51 GMT: Three minutes of added time are nearly up, France have one convincingly.
21:50 GMT: Another France breakaway, Evra tried to cross, but it comes out to Matuidi on the edge of the area, whose shot is wayward.
21:48 GMT: Evra whips one in which is met by Griezmann at the near post whose header is knocked out for a corner, which comes to nothing.
21:46 GMT: France with magnificent passage of play after magnificent passage of play. Benzema nearly finishes off a 9 pass move but decides to cross rather than shoot.
21:45 GMT: France have slowed this game down to a halt, at walking pace, almost in an attempt to attract any more assault from the Hondurans in the form of reckless challenges.
21:44 GMT: A Honduran penalty shout as Varane takes out Costly, but there is truly very little contact.
21:42 GMT: Karim Benzema is found by a nice ball in after an impressive run from Matuidi. The resulting corner sees Giroud thump down two Hondurans out, with a grin on his face, and the referee is forced to stop the game.
21:39 GMT: France by no means the finish article on this evening’s showing. Still a lot to do in terms of quality and pace of the passing, as well as ball retention, regardless of the bully-boy nature of Honduras. Matuidi the latest victim to Garrido, who has just been booked.
21:37 GMT: Mathieu Valbuena is the only player who was played in all 23 of France’s matches under Didier Deschamps and he has been instrumental tonight yet again.
21:36 GMT: Mathieu Valbuena off, Olivier Giroud on.
21:33 GMT: France’s interplay has been a little ragged tonight, but as the Hondurans have tired, Les Bleus are able to exploit the wide spaces more often. We could certainly be set for more goals for France tonight.
21:31 GMT: GOAL: France 3-0 Honduras (Benzema). An excellently well worked corner from Les Bleus, Valbuena plays it out to Debuchy who’s strike is blocked but Benzema is given space and fires home for his second of the evening. In more concerning news, Evra has been taken off on a stretcher. More on that one as we get it.
21:28 GMT: Another foul from Figueroa, how has he not been booked yet? This time he wedges Valbuena down. Did they turn up for a rugby match tonight?
21:27 GMT: Benzema is caught in a Honduran sandwich and wins the corner. Figueroa then crunches Evra who has been battered tonight, left, right and centre.
21:26 GMT: Sakho gets caught in possession, and a rare Honduran attack ends in the palms of Lloris.
21:24 GMT: Moussa Sissoko crosses the ball in after good interlinking play, but his cross hits a Honduran and the ball goes out for a corner which failed to find a Frenchman.
21:23 GMT: Rio Mavuba on, Yohan Cabaye off. The PSG man picked up a yellow and it is sensible tactics from Deschamps again.
21:21 GMT: CORRECTION: France’s second goal has been accredited to Valladares as an own goal. So Benzema is not on a hat-trick unfortunately. There is no controversy over the goal, the first touch wasn’t in, but the Honduran goalkeeper then puts it into the back of his net. Simples.
21:19 GMT: Cabaye drives one from range, over. Honduras are nothing short of thuggish this half.
21:16 GMT: Najar comes off for Claros for Honduras. More horrific play from Izaguirre with a very high fort against Valbuena. They are really rattled and I fear for France here.
21:15 GMT: Paul Pogba off, Moussa Sissoko on.
21:13 GMT: Good ball in from Griezmann, drills the cross across the box from the left hand side and there are Frenchmen lining up to put it away but the Honduran goalkeeper stands strong to Benzema’s strike. France running riot now.
21:11 GMT: Nothing short of abusive this Honduran play. They smile every time they seem to be crunching a France player to the ground. Evra the victim this time, the man Garcia is booked.
21:06 GMT: GOAL: France 2-0 Honduras (Benzema) Well it is a goal, according to the goal line technology, despite in the initial instance but the goalkeeper then puts the ball in the back of his net. Cabaye’s ball was a beauty leading up to it. Goal line technology comes into its own here and confirms the goal. Figueroa fouls Pogba in the air again, this is becoming dangerous for the French players in terms of injuries and Pogba must calm down.
21:03 GMT: The teams are back out. Second half imminent. Honduran substitute at half time, Garcia on for Bengtson and they will now play a 4-4-1. Bernardez off, Boniek on also.
HT: France 1-0 Honduras. Les Bleus are ahead, but they are not in total control yet. Espinosa and Bengtson have caused them issues and Griezmann has often broken down pieces of attacking play, and, apart from some flashes of brilliance, looks as if the occasion got the better of him in the first half. France nevertheless on course.
20:48 GMT: Free kick for France earnt by Evra. Three minutes of added time are over after a lovely strike from Valbuena.
20:46 GMT: Yellow card for Cabaye who comes in from behind on a Honduran midfielder. The team needs to calm down a bit. These cards could pay in future games.
20:44 GMT: GOAL: France 1-0 Honduras (Benzema pen.) More gamesmanship from Honduras who refuse to clear the penalty area in an attempt to break up Benzema’s confidence. Nevermind, he riffles home. Nothing less than deserved.
20:42 GMT: RED CARD AND PENALTY: Pogba wins the penalty after a great ball through by Cabaye. The Juve man is hacked down by Palacios and a pen is given. Having already been on a yellow, he is off and his World Cup is over.
20:39 GMT: Certainly seems to be more support for Honduras in Porto Alegre tonight than for France, but Les Bleus are unfazed, apart from perhaps Griezmann, whose distribution has been half brilliant and defence splitting and the other half wayward and misguided. France have two great crosses, first from Debuchy and then Benzema decides to selfishly shoot when he shouldn’t have. Honduras’s Bernardez has gone down and looks to be in considerable pain
20:35 GMT: Some more lovely linkup from Griezmann and Evra and the latter’s cross is sent out for a corner by Figueroa. Valbuena’s ball in is poor. France in the ascendency once again. Looking back at the Pogba incident, he is extraordinary fortunate to still be on the pitch, but that does not excuse Palacios’ horrific attempts to get every French player in trouble.
20:33 GMT: A bold effort by Figueroa who tries an audacious lob over Lloris, but it is both wayward and met with rapturous boos.
20:30 GMT: Perhaps I am being a bit harsh, but certain individuals in this Honduras side seem beset on provoking a reaction from French players by simply abusing them. Evra stares at Beckeles after he is the latest French player to be hauled down, but is wise and old enough not to react like Pogba did moments ago.
20:28 GMT: Najar looks threatening down the right hand side whenever the Hondurans do get the ball. A bit of defending for France to do as Sakho has to clear from Espinoza.
20:25 GMT: Paul Pogba with massive handbags on Palacios! There is a swarm of players around the pair as Palacios effectively assaults Pogba by wedging him down. Pogba reacts and he should probably have been sent off. So France are lucky. Terrible play acting from Palacios. Really disappointing.
20:22 GMT: Antoine Griezmann hits the bar with a header! A lovely cross in from Evra, whose offensive contribution has been first rate. Then a lovely interchange between Pogba and Griezmann who plays the pass of the tournament so far for Valbuena, who crosses to Benzema who then heads over. Absolutely lovely stuff.
20:20 GMT: A surging run from Valbuena who eventually lays off for Cabaye, but the PSG man’s strike bobbles wide.
20:18 GMT: Honduras are not enjoying this thus far. Palacios wins a foul by essentially diving. How the referee bought the fact that little Valbuena had managed to flaw Palacios I will never know…
20:16 GMT: France starting to assert their authority on this encounter. Quickfire set of attacking set pieces but again another foul. This time Palacios is adjudged to have unfairly jumped with Pogba for the ball in the air. France free kick taken short comes to nothing. Very physical game here in Porto Alegre.
20:14 GMT: What a save! Blaise Matuidi is unmarked after a rebound from an excellent Valbuena delivery but some how Valladares clears. Resulting corner is poor and does not clear the first man.
20:12 GMT: Challenge on Valbuena by Izaguirre. Free kick. 3rd free-kick in virtually the same position.
20:11 GMT: Good delivery from Valbuena, which is well met by Valladares and punched away.
20:10 GMT: Another free-kick to France, with Figueroa adjudged to have hand balled in a duel with Benzema. Same position. Valbuena to take.
20:09 GMT: Free-kick on the right hand side after Palacios fouled Valbuena. The consequent delivery from the Marseille man executes a training ground move to the edge of the area and Benzema inexplicably heads the ball.
20:08 GMT: Nice play between Pogba and Debuchy, but the latter’s eventual cross is poor.
20:05 GMT: The first five minutes have been dominated by… Honduras. Actually impressive set of passes strung together. Griezmann has just had a half chance after he was given initial space to volley but it is eventually blocked. Then a nasty challenge from Evra on Najar to stop him from counter attacking. He has been booked.
20:01 GMT: A fairly shaky start from France, with Honduras and notably Bengtson running at the French defence. Have yet to break into the penalty area however.
20:00 GMT: It appears that the tannoy system is broken here in Porto Alegre, with no anthems and no teams either having been announced.
19:58 GMT: No anthems is a bit odd, and we are now all awkwardly waiting for it to hit 20:00 GMT.
19:55 GMT: The anthems are imminent, and now the players have all shaken hands. France in that delicious blue and Honduras in their classic white. Wait… no anthems?
19:50 GMT: Predictions out there?
19:48 GMT: When Honduras qualified for the World Cup this time around, the Prime Minister declared a public holiday! A bit of dinner table talk for any of you out there.
19:47 GMT: Patrice Evra has really become a father figure in this incredibly close-knit squad, we can see him instructing his teammates on the pitch as we draw ever nearer to that awaited kick-off.
19:45 GMT: Karim Benzema has six goals in his last six international games. He is being giving absolute licence to roam this evening with the absence of Giroud.
19:43 GMT: Switzerland beat Ecuador in the last minutes of the first match of this World Cup group, winning 2-1. I still believe that Ecuador may be the toughest test for France after that game.
19:30 GMT: So I guess the main question is, should France be scared? Honduras have never won a World Cup group stage game in their three appearances and are likely to set up a counter-attacking formation which will be aimed towards breakouts down either wing, but most notably from Espinoza, who was dangerous in the side’s warmup friendly vs England earlier this month.
19:25 GMT: We had our man James spending all week trying to learn as much about Honduras as possible and here is a snippet of what he came up with:
“Honduras finished third in their qualifying group behind the United States and Costa Rica, managing to win only four out of ten matches. However, Honduras are very compact with their likely 4-2-3-1 formation and have shown throughout qualifying that they can be a threat from set pieces. The main goal threat from Honduras comes in the shape of twenty seven year old striker Jerry Bengston, who managed to net nine goals during the South American side’s whole qualifying campaign.”
Read his impressively wholesome scout report here.
19:21 GMT: Judging by the reaction on Twitter, fans are surprised by the omissions of Bacary Sagna and Laurent Koscielny. Deschamps favours both Sakho and Debuchy over the former duo, mainly because of their positive performances against Ukraine in Paris which actually put the side into the World Cup in the first place. Deschamps’ policy of counting performances in the national shirt over those at club level will be put to the test this evening.
19:17 GMT: France lineup exactly as expected after the training sessions from earlier this week. Deschamps’ 4-3-3, with the midfield nucleus of Blaise Matuidi, Yohan Cabaye and Paul Pogba. The one surprise that Deschamps has sprung tonight is the inclusion of Antoine Griezmann at left wing, who earns his first ever international start. Olivier Giroud is dropped. Looks as if Deschamps has chosen structure over attacking fluidity this evening in a game where the physical Giroud might have fared better than young Griezmann when up against a side like Honduras. We shall soon find out if he is up to the task.
19:10 GMT: The teams:
Honduras XI vs France: Valladares, Izaguirre, Figueroa, Bernardez, Beckeles, Palacios, Garrido, Espinoza, Chavez, Bengtson, Costly.
France XI vs Honduras: Lloris, Debuchy, Varane, Sakho, Evra, Pogba, Cabaye, Matuidi, Griezmann, Benzema, Valbuena.
19:09 GMT: Welcome one and all! Tonight marks the beginning of France’s 2014 World Cup campaign and we might just be a little bit excited.