The fixture boasts an average aggregate score of only 37, making it the lowest-scoring in the competition's history.
Townsend made three changes in the pack and three in the back line for the clash at Murrayfield after a meek performance in Cardiff, where Scotland were beaten 34-7 in their first game of this year's competition.
The Scots entered the tournament with high hopes following a promising November campaign that included a win over Australia and a narrow defeat by world champions New Zealand.
"When you've got very big men coming at you, you have to get bodies in front of those bodies".
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"Our fans expect us to nowadays, which is great, but we've got a lot of pressure on us as well, so we need to go into the game, be positive and try to play the same as we've been doing at Murrayfield for the a year ago". Accuracy, confidence and precision must be present in spades.
France meanwhile suffered a similar disappointing defeat where Jonny Sexton's last kick of the game stole the points away from them right at the death.
Scotland led early thanks to a Stuart Hogg try before the home side replied through Gaël Fickou on the half-hour mark. Laidlaw will be a key cog in Scotland's wheel. He replaced Matthieu Jalibert, who injured his left knee in his test debut.
But away form has always been Scotland's Achilles heel in the Six Nations and their Championship started with a 34-7 thrashing by Wales in Cardiff last Saturday, where only Pete Horne's late try saw Townsend's men avoid the embarrassment of failing to score any points at all.
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Townsend was shocked by their performance and it is no surprise the team to face France features plenty of changes.
Italy coach Conor O'Shea will be relieved to see CJ Stander drop to the bench - the Ireland number eight made the most carries of any player on the opening weekend (24).
"We saw Greig at training doing well and could just tell with his energy around the group, when he came on he was one of the players in that second half who was taking the game to Wales", said Townsend.
This week Jacques Brunel lifted the lid on his selection decisions. "I don't think many people were expecting it and the fans are probably quite right to be a bit hacked off after a game like that, but no-one's hurting more than the players, so we need to put it right as well".
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ASM Clermont Auvergne scrum-half Greig Laidlaw will make his first Test start in nearly a year after being recalled by Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend for their Six Nations Championship match with France on Sunday at Murrayfield. The 32-year-old will be making his first global appearance for six years at Murrayfield. "We have to look at the next job and do that to the best of our ability". "Lionel can relieve us with his kicking if the pressure is strong".