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Ready for battle

OLIVIER Giroud insisted playing in the Barclays Premier League will stand him in good stead for the physical challenge France face tonight when they take on Honduras in their Group E opener in Porto Alegre.

The Central American minnows showed in their warm-up game against England that they are unlikely to shirk a tackle, but that does not bother the Arsenal striker.

"I like the contact and the physical battle," the Arsenal front man said. "It is an asset for me against English defences."

His club-mate Laurent Koscielny believes Giroud will have a pivotal part to play in their country's campaign. "Olivier is full of confidence.

"As a focal point, we are beginning to see him at his best. It's good for him and it's good for the team. He can be an important element."

The absence of talisman Franck Ribery, who did not travel to Brazil due to a back injury, has created a dilemma for coach Didier Deschamps.

Montpellier's Remy Cabella replaced the Bayern Munich star in the squad but Real Sociedad's Antoine Griezmann looks likely to take Ribery's place on the pitch.

Honduras are unlikely to tone down their approach, if forward Jerry Bengtsson's pre-match comments are any indication.

The Central American side were unimpressed by a documentary from a French TV channel, entitled Les Miserables Du Honduras, which painted a grim picture of the country's football as well as drawing attention to crowd violence in its domestic league.

Coach Luis Fernando Suarez has used the footage to motivate his side and Bengtsson said: "There will be a bit of rancour for us in the match against France

"We will give our all to show that we are not 'miserable'. They will see what we can do."

Meanwhile, Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli will read little into Spain's crushing defeat against Holland as he prepares his side - 3-1 winners over Australia - for Wednesday's match against the holders.

"Spain lost their first match at the last World Cup and became champions," Sampaoli said. "I don't think the result will be decisive. Spain have a great coach and some of the best players in the world."

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