The 2021 Six Nations Championship reaches its belated climax on Friday as France hunt down their first European rugby title since 2010 against Scotland.
It’s a Stade de France fixture that should have been played a month ago, only for a Covid-19 outbreak among the French squad that nearly derailed their campaign entirely.
A thrilling win over Grand Slam hopefuls Wales in Paris last weekend has instead set up the chance for the home side to pip the Welsh to the crown.
Les Bleus had won their opening two matches of the competition but had to endure an enforced blank weekend before falling to an agonizing late defeat against England at Twickenham.
But their 32-30 success against Wayne Pivac’s side has set up coach Fabien Galthie and Co for a shot at leapfrogging the Red Dragons and second-placed Ireland in tournament overtime.
Four tries for the bonus point is essential, as is a winning margin of at least 20 points on home turf.
Standing in their way are Gregor Townsend’s Scotland.
The visitors have ambitions of their own and could go as high as second in the final standings if they can pull off a shock result.
It represents quite the improvement for a nation that has been keeping winless Italy company in the lower reaches for much of the last few years.
But a routine Murrayfield win over the hapless Azzurri, coupled with a famous victory over England at Twickenham, has set them up for a tilt at the podium.
It could have been even better but for narrow losses to both Ireland and Wales in what will be regarded as an encouraging campaign whatever happens in Paris.
France make five changes for the decider, including the return of lock Bernard le Roux.
Paul Willemse’s ban means a return for Swann Rebbadj alongside him, while Anthony Jelonch also comes into the pack at flank.
Romain Ntamack returns at fly-half as Matthieu Jalibert nurses a face injury, while there is also a place for Arthur Vincent in the centres.
Scotland make four changes as Finn Russell and Ali Price are reunited in the half-backs.
Chris Harris gets the nod at inside centre, while hooker George Turner comes in at the expense of David Cherry.
Six Nations 2021: France vs Scotland prediction and teams
Prediction methodology explained: The expected win percentage is based off publicly available odds. For example, if a team’s odds are 2.30, the expected chance of winning is 43%. If the odds are 1.62 the expected chance of winning is 62% and so on. These are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change. Where there is no value listed, the odds were not available at the time of writing. Score margins use the methodology developed by Rugby Vision.
France Starting XV: 15 Brice Dulin; 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Arthur Vincent, 11 Gael Fickou; 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont; 8 Gregory Alldritt; 7 Charles Ollivon (captain), 6 Anthony Jelonch; 5 Swann Rebbadj, 4 Bernard Le Roux; 3 Mohamed Haouas, 2 Julian Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille.
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18 Uini Atonio, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Dylan Cretin, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Anthony Bouthier, 23 Teddy Thomas.
Scotland Starting XV: 15 Stuart Hogg (captain), 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Sam Skinner, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 David Cherry, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Alex Craig, 20 Nick Haining, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Huw Jones.