There’s always a great atmosphere in Paris for this game and it is always a close contest. Even when they have won in the Stade de France it has never been easy for England.
England are favourites on Saturday but the is pressure is on them. It was tough for them at Twickenham against Wales and they didn’t perform at all against Scotland.
The French team will have analysed that Calcutta Cup match closely. England were second best in so many areas.
The breakdown was one, and France have some influential players in their pack in this area. Wenceslas Lauret and Yacouba Camara are good, as are Jefferson Poirot, Guilhem Guirado and Seb Vahaamahina.
Mathieu Bastareaud can be very important too. He’s a much more mature player now – the captain at Toulon – and he’s playing the best rugby of his career.
If the ball-in-play time is high it won’t suit him but if it’s a lower intensity match he can be a brilliant player for the team and get France going forward.
If England manage the tempo of the game they will be very difficult to live with but if France can slow them down they have a great opportunity.
It’s a shame Teddy Thomas isn’t in the French squad because he’s in good form and he could have troubled the English backs, but Jacques Brunel wanted to keep the same squad after the win against Italy.
France need to be more clinical and more disciplined than they were two weeks ago, but with the confidence of a victory and playing in front of our home crowd we can cause England some problems.
France are coming from a long way back. We have slipped to No 10 in the world – behind Fiji – and England stand at No 2.
But this championship is now more of a level playing field for us. This is the second year the coach has been able to keep hold of his players during the whole Six Nations and not have them going back to play for their clubs.
This move is ten years late but it is important. We saw last season how France improved as the championship went on and it will be the same this season. Three games in, France will be more cohesive.
England have only lost two games in two years and they will be very hurt after their last performance, but France have nothing to lose.
France are underdogs but this will be a good contest. I’m looking forward to the show.
Philippe Saint-Andre was talking to Neil Squires.