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Mar 22, 2013

Lloris calls for France focus

France captain Hugo Lloris has told his international team-mates not to worry about recent friendly defeats, saying he prefers to win "games that count".

Les Bleus, preparing to face Georgia in a World Cup qualifier on Friday and Spain on Tuesday, have been beaten in home friendlies by Japan and Germany since Didier Deschamps took charge in the summer. However, they are unbeaten on seven points after three Group I qualifiers.

Lloris, 26, is looking for France's competitive streak to re-emerge against the Georgians at the Stade de France before next Tuesday's potentially decisive encounter with group leaders Spain in Paris.

"During the friendly matches, we didn't get the results we wanted, but we played some great stuff," the Tottenham goalkeeper said.

"But if I have to choose, I prefer to win the games that count, those that will take us to Brazil."

He warned that Temuri Ketsbaia's men, who held out for 86 minutes before losing 1-0 to Spain in September, would provide stiff opposition.

"It's a game we owe it to ourselves to win," he added. "On paper, we're favourites. We'll have to show that on the pitch.

"We've had some time to put things in place both in defence and up front. The ideal scenario would be to score early. We're expecting to face a very compact team which will play with a lot of heart."

In an attempt to break the visitors' resistance, Deschamps looks likely to switch from his habitual 4-2-3-1 formation to 4-4-2, with Arsenal's Olivier Giroud partnering Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema up front.

The threat of suspension hanging over Yohan Cabaye and Laurent Koscielny means Paul Pogba, 20, and Raphael Varane, 19, are poised to make their senior debuts.

Former France international defender Bixente Lizarazu believes Madrid centre-back Varane could even play against world and European champions Spain next week.

"Varane could play his first game tonight. I'm surprised that that choice could surprise people," he wrote in his L'Equipe column on Friday.

"The psychological pressure of playing for France is a factor, but... he has played well with Madrid at the Camp Nou, against people like Messi."

The 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winner added: "If he's still in the starting line-up against Spain, that wouldn't shock me either."

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