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France vs England: Les Bleus to defend handicap against champions

France vs England match preview and predictions

England look to get their Six Nations title aspirations back on track against France on Saturday.

The defending champions suffered a shock 25-13 loss to Scotland two weeks ago, only their second defeat under Eddie Jones in 26 Tests.

France finally got off the mark with their first victory in nine games with a reasonably comfortable 34-17 win against Italy.

Team News

England's Lions wing Elliot Daly has recovered from ankle and calf problems and could make his first appearance of the tournament, possibly as a replacement for Jonny May. However, Jones is likely to keep changes to a minimum.

France coach Jacques Brunel has named an unchanged squad which means those players banned for one game for a late-night drinking session in Edinburgh, including Teddy Thomas, miss out again.

Match-up history and facts

England have triumphed in the last three Six Nations encounters with France, who have won four of the last 11 meetings, including one of two Rugby World Cup warm-ups in 2015. France are 5/2 to win once more.

Jones' men are 1/3 to make it four wins in a row against a French side that only held an 11-7 half-time lead against Italy but pulled away after the interval courtesy of an inspired display by centre Mathieu Bastareaud.

Those three wins have been by three, 10 and 20 points, but two of those games were at Twickenham so how do France fare when they're on home territory? As you'd probably expect, the margin of victory has been much closer, running as follows since 2010: France win, England 2 points, France win, England 10 points.

This has been a topsy-turvy Six Nations with Wales destroying Scotland who in turn crushed tournament favourites England. To complete the circle, Jones' men were probably slightly fortunate to beat Wales.

England were well and truly duffed up by Scotland who were magnificent at Murrayfield, punching holes in their defence at will, in particular Huw Jones, and fully deserved their win.

France were expected to perform poorly in the Six Nations but they only lost to Scotland by six points in Edinburgh and were seconds away from upsetting Six Nations leaders Ireland, so the value looks to be Les Bleus winning with a +7.5 pt handicap at 17/20.

Clearly, England have a better squad and while we don't expect them to repeat their performance against Scotland, France could give them a scare even without Thomas in the starting line-up.

France held a half-time lead against Scotland, but went on to lose and we fancy a repeat of that scenario on Saturday.

England have been far from convincing in this tournament and against a revitalised France may need to win from behind in the HT/FT market at 19/4.

France vs England Betting Tips

France to win with 7.5pt handicap @ 17/20

France/England in HT/FT market @ 19/4

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Warren Barner
@warren_barner in Rugby Union