France must avoid defeat against Italy on Friday to book their place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals (8pm BST).
Les Blues have 13 points after their opening three matches in Pool A, but Italy (10 points) would surpass them by taking the spoils in Lyon.
It will be a straight shootout at the OL Stadium, with a place in the last eight on offer to the winner.
France vs Italy Betting Tips
- First try to be converted – Yes @ 1/3 with Sky Bet
- Damian Penaud and Peato Mauvaka both to score anytime @ 21/10 with Bet365
Allan to remain perfect from the tee
France will seal qualification and top spot as long as they avoid defeat here over their European rivals and they will want to end the group stages on a high before a likely QF showdown against holders South Africa.
Italy, who were shambolic in their defeat against NZ last time out, need a win to stand any chance of qualifying and will be desperate to show the rugby world that their heavy defeat to NZ was a shocking one-off and that they are capable of beating the big teams on their day.
After starting at full-back against New Zealand last time out, Allan is back at fly-half for this must-win clash. The Perpignan man is the only survivor from Italy’s last World Cup showdown with France back in 2015. Allan has been flawless from the tee so far this tournament, successfully kicking all 15 of his shots at goal.
With Italy’s new front row eager to impress, the Azzurri may be quicker out of the blocks in Lyon and should they achieve the first score, you would fancy Allan to either kick or convert for them.
French wingers to continue impressive form
France are expected to win this game fairly comfortably but the current handicap (+28) is harsh on Italy and probably a slight overreaction to their mauling against New Zealand. Italy have improved dramatically in recent years, coming within 5 points of beating France in their last encounter during the Six Nations.
France will be without their talismanic leader in Dupont could also have an impact, something that could have an impact on the result. There should be French tries in this game though, and Damian Penaud could well add to his tryscoring tally, as well as hooker Peato Mauvaka as France look to exert their power game, especially in the early stages
Penaud has scored the most tries of any player in 2023 so far with 12, and is enjoying a six-game try-scoring streak. France’s third all-time leading try-scorer with 33, he could surpass Vincent Clerc (34) here and edge closer to Serge Blanco’s record (38).
France vs Italy team news
Fabian Galthie makes just two changes from France’s dominant win over Namibia. Maxime Lucu replaces injured skipper Antoine Dupont at scrum-half, while Gregory Alldritt comes in for Francois Cros, who drops to the bench.
France: Thomas Ramos, Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Louis Bielle-Biarrey, Matthieu Jalibert, Maxime Lucu; Cyril Baille, Peato Mauvaka, Uini Atonio, Cameron Woki, Thibaud Flament, Anthony Jelonch, Charles Ollivon, Gregory Alldritt.
Replacements: Pierre Bourgarit, Reda Wardi, Dorian Aldegheri, Romain Taofifenua, Francois Cros, Baptiste Couilloud, Yoram Moefana, Melvyn Jaminet.
Kieran Crowley makes five changes from the heavy defeat to New Zealand. That includes a new front row in Simone Ferrari, Epalahame Faiva and Pietro Ceccarelli, while Niccolo Cannone and Pierre Bruno also start for the Azzurri.
Italy XV: Ange Capuozzo, Pierre Bruno, Juan Ignacio Brex, Paolo Garbisi, Montanna Ioane, Tommason Allan, Stephen Varney; Simone Ferrari, Hame Faiva, Pietro Ceccarelli, Niccolo Cannone, Federico Ruzza, Sebastian Negri, Michele Lamaro, Lorenzo Cannone.
Replacements: Marco Manfredi, Federico Zani, Marco Riccioni, David Sisi, Manuel Zuliani, Alessandro Fusco, Luca Morisi, Lorenzo Pani.