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Six Nations | Group Stage
Feb 25, 2024 at 3pm UK
Ollivon (7')
Capuozzo (70')

Preview: France vs. Italy - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Six Nations clash between France and Italy, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The final match in round three of the 2024 Six Nations will see France taking on Italy at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Sunday afternoon.

The hosts head to Lille in fourth place in the standings and looking to get their Six Nations campaign back on track, while the visitors are hoping to bounce back from a thrashing at the hands of Ireland last time out.

Match preview

France's Cyril Baille celebrates scoring their first try on October 15, 2023© Reuters

Despite entering this year's Six Nations as favourites to clinch both the title and the Grand Slam, France have struggled in their first two games, arguably still suffering the effects of a Rugby World Cup hangover.

Les Bleus returned to the spotlight after the World Cup quarter-final disappointment in Marseille in week one of this competition and had to endure another tough loss, beaten comprehensively by title contenders Ireland 38-17.

While Fabien Galthie's side did bounce back against Scotland in round two, securing a 20-16 victory at Murrayfield, their success came with a slice of luck, as the hosts on the day were controversially denied a last-gasp winning try.

Undoubtedly, the absence of Antoine Dupont, widely regarded as the world's best player, has affected the French performances, but given the talent they possess, many would agree that they should be able to produce more cohesive displays than they have done so far.

Nevertheless, Les Bleus are massively fancied to go back-to-back in this match as they have beaten this opponent in their last 14 consecutive meetings, including a 60-7 thrashing in the pool stage of the World Cup last year.

Italy's Montanna Ioane celebrates scoring their third try on September 27, 2023© Reuters

Meanwhile, despite showing major improvement last year, Italy lost all five of their games in the 2023 edition of this competition, which saw them receive the wooden spoon for an eighth campaign in succession.

The Azzurri entered this year's tournament with high hopes under new coach Gonzalo Quesada and almost made a dream start, pushing England right to the end in round one, but came up agonisingly short, losing their opening match 27-24.

In their last outing, however, Italy were thoroughly outplayed by Ireland in Dublin, where the hosts comfortably won 36-0, though the match was well and truly over by halftime with the score at 19-0.

Underlining their shortage of effective ball-carrying options in the pack, Italy's forwards are making under 50% of the side's carries, which has seen them look to utilise their dangermen on the wings more prominently this year, though we are yet to see that decision pay dividends.

The Azzurri managed to defeat France twice in three years in Rome between 2011 and 2013, while their only other victory in this fixture came way back in 1997 in Grenoble.

France Six Nations form:

  • L
  • W

France form (all competitions):

  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W

Italy Six Nations form:

  • L
  • L

Italy form (all competitions):

  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • L

Team News

France's Antoine Dupont receives medical attention after sustaining an injury on September 21, 2023© Reuters

Galthie has made two changes to his starting 15 for Sunday's clash against Italy, starting with an enforced change due to Gregory Alldritt's injury in the side's last match against the Scots.

As a result, Francois Cros will move from openside flank to cover Alldritt's vacancy at number eight, and Paul Boudehent will come into the pack after starting on the bench at Murrayfield.

The second change for the hosts sees the towering teenager Posolo Tuilagi brought into the side for his first international start following impressive showings off the bench in the first two matches of the competition.

In the opposite dugout, Quesada has made several changes to the side that were blown away agaisnt Ireland, including the addition of Exeter Chiefs' Ross Vintcent, who also earns his first Test start.

Niccolo Cannone and Federico Ruzza will continue their partnership in an unchanged second row, while Giosue Zilocchi and Giacomo Nicotera are moved from the bench to the starting lineup, where they will join loosehead prop Danilo Fischetti.

For a third consecutive game, Paolo Garbisi will have a new half-back partner, with Martin Page-Relo set to wear the number 10 jersey in place of Stephen Varney, who drops to the bench for this match.

France starting lineup: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gaël Fickou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Maxime Lucu, 8 François Cros, 7 Charles Ollivon (c), 6 Paul Boudehent, 5 Posolo Tuilagi, 4 Cameron Woki, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Peato Mauvaka, 1 Cyril Baille

Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Sebastien Taofifenua, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Alexandre Roumat, 21 Esteban Abadie, 22 Nolann Le Garrec, 23 Yoram Moefana

Italy starting lineup: 15 Ange Capuozzo, 14 Tommaso Menoncello, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Federico Mori, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Martin Page-Relo, 8 Ross Vintcent, 7 Michele Lamaro (c), 6 Riccardo Favretto, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolo Cannone, 3 Giosue Zilocchi, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Danilo Fischetti

Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Mirco Spagnolo, 18 Simone Ferrari, 19 Matteo Canali, 20 Andrea Zambonin, 21 Manuel Zuliani, 22 Stephen Varney, 23 Leonardo Marin

SM words green background

We say: France 32-12 Italy

While we have yet to see Les Bleus' full potential in this competition, a home match against the Italians could be exactly what they need to click into gear. Italy are improving year-on-year but they will struggle to keep up with the hosts in this one.

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