French coach Phillipe Saint Andre was visibly relieved at the end of their opening game against England. Having taken a huge lead in the opening quarter of the game, his side were markedly second best for the rest of it and in danger of suffering one of their more embarrassing home defeats. Fortunately for him, English tactical naivety handed the match back to France, and now they will hope to consolidate their position at the head of the Six Nations table with a win over Italy.
Italy ran Wales very close in Cardiff and their loss by eight points would’ve been a victory had Tommasso Allan not missed so many kicks at goal. Their patched-up back line, missing at least four regulars, looked enterprising in attack and in Michele Campagnaro they had the best player on the pitch.
France will need to improve in a lot of areas to beat this enthusiastic but limited Italian side. Gael Fickou, who scored the match winning try against England, should start in place of the ineffective Mathieu Basteraud and a shake-up of the largely sluggish pack is in order, too. For Italy, they need to toughen up their own scrum, which was brutalised by the Welsh, and Allan needs to refind some form and confidence otherwise he will be just another discard in the great Italian search for the next Diego Dominguez.
France are such strong favourites for this game, best priced at 1.05 with BetFred, whilst Paddy Power have the Italians as long as 15.0. Those are understandable odds as the Italians have never won in Paris, but this should be another close game. You’d be better off betting on a France win by 1 to 10 points, which will bring you 4.0 at Ladbrokes
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