The confused versus the broken. That might seem like a harsh way to describe France v Scotland, but at this current point in time, neither of these two sides are in what would be described as peak condition.
For France the issues are many fold, but a lack of a settled side continued to bedevil Les Bleus. The selection of Toulouse pairing Romain Ntamack and Antoine Dupont is long overdue according to many, but it is their 11th halfback pairing in the last two years.
That said, they two have more pace to their game than Camille Lopez and Morgan Parra and Brunel has at least come close to picking a balanced backline with the return of Yoann Huget to the wing and the selection of France’s in form fullback, Thomas Ramos, to take the 15 jersey.
Whilst the inclusion of Mathieu Bastareud in the centres is a baffling one, Gael Fickou has been in decent domestic form and at least on paper France are set up to take better advantage of whatever possession they might have from their monster pack.
Scotland would ideally be well placed for make a real charge for a rare victory here – their first since 1999 in Paris – but they have been cut apart by injury.
Having already lost Stuart Hogg, Huw Jones and Ryan Wilson to injury against Ireland, Finn Russell got injured last week playing for Racing 92 and will not return, having failed a head injury assessment.
That is the loss of their best player added to one of the best fly halves in the tournament, and their best centre in the space of just a fortnight and this was already a side that was bearing the brunt of many important absences – 20 in total – before their opening games.
There are silver linings for them – Blair Kinghorn was dangerous against Ireland after his hat-trick against Italy – and this will allow for an important test of Gregor Townsend’s depth before the World Cup, although it does bring the gap between the two closer.
Support for France has been understandable in the past couple of days but given their inconsistency and defensive inability, one is loathe to back them to surpass a handicap margin of up to 6 points.
Games between these two, especially in recent times, have been rather high scoring and with a very settled weather forecast we could see plenty of points on the board. Over 45.5 points is a fair marker.
3 pts Over 45.5 points (10/11 general)
Last six meetings
2018 Scotland 32 France 26
2017 France 22 Scotland 16
2016 Scotland 29 France 18
2015 France 19 Scotland 16 (World Cup warm-up)
2015 France 15 Scotland 8
2014 Scotland 17 France 19
France: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Gaël Fickou, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Arthur Iturria, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Félix Lambey, 4 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 3 Demba Bamba, 2 Guilhem Guirado (c), 1 Jefferson Poirot
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Etienne Falgoux, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Paul Willemse, 20 Gregory Alldritt, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Anthony Belleau, 23 Maxime Medard
Scotland: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Pete Horne, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Ben Toolis, 20 Gary Graham, 21 Ali Price, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Darcy Graham
Date: Saturday, February 23
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Kick-off: 15:15 local (14:15 GMT)