Following a fine run to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Brazil this past summer France will look to confirm their enhanced reputation when they take on Spain in a friendly in Paris on Thursday.
After a disastrous World Cup in 2010 France under the guidance of Didier Deschamps regained a lot of credibility in Brazil losing in the last eight to eventual winners Germany.
Ahead of the friendly tie at the Stade de France Deschamps said: ‘‘We reached the quarter-finals at the last World Cup. Some teams did better than us but we now belong again to this group of high-quality European and World teams.’‘
In stark contrast it was a world Cup to forget for Spain who since have a wave of new faces eager to earn their first cap for their country and put Brazil well and truly behind them.
Atletico Madrid’s Raul Garcia is expected to make his international bow on Thursday and said: ‘‘The World Cup did not go well for us, but it is over and it would be unfair not to trust this team after what they had previously won.’‘
With Xavi, Xabi Alonso and David Villa recently retired and Andres Iniesta sidelined with a knee injury Spain will have a new-look about them and coach Vicente del Bosque has drafted in five debutants as the Spaniards look to wash away the bitter taste of Brazil 2014.
As well as Garcia, Real Madrid right-back Dani Carvajal, Valencia striker Paco Alcacer, Espanyol goalkeeper Kiko Casilla and Athletic Bilbao defender Mikel San Jose are likely to earn their first caps for La Roja.
Italy and the Netherlands take each other on in a friendly in Bari with new coaches in charge of both teams.
Antonio Conte replaced Cesare Prandelli following a poor World Cup while Guus Hiddink returns for a second stint as Netherlands boss after replacing Louis Van Gaal – who now manages Manchester United.
The match will be the ideal preparation for both sides’ opening Euro 2016 qualifiers with Italy travelling to Norway next Tuesday and Netherlands visiting Czech Republic.