Coman and Martial start for France against Albania
By Mitch Phillips
MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) - France coach Didier Deschamps has handed starts to Kingsley Coman and Anthony Martial for Wednesday’s game against Albania with Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann dropping to the bench.
The changes were widely predicted, despite France winning their opening game, with high-speed duo Coman and Martial expected to stretch the Albania defence out wide and create more space for Dimitri Payet to run the midfield and leave Olivier Giroud as a lone striker.
Deschamps benched Griezmann and Pogba for the second group game of the 2014 World Cup, reinstating them thereafter but with Martial in particular finishing the season in great form for Manchester United, the return ticket might not be so automatic this time.
Having beaten Romania 2-1 in their opening game, France can secure progress to the knockout stage with a second win -- though they have lost against and drawn with Albania in their last two friendly meetings.
Albania coach Gianni De Biasi opted for 22-year-old Arlind Ajeti to fill the central defensive hole left by captain Lorik Cana, suspended after his red card in his team's opening defeat by Switzerland, who top Group A with four points after drawing 1-1 with Romania in Paris earlier.
There is also a start for experienced wide midfielder Andi Lila, with Ergys Kace missing out with a knee injury.
(Editing by: Toby Davis)