A new-look France team beat Sweden 3-2 in a friendly international here on Wednesday but their deficient defensive qualities did not augur well for upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
The international retirements of Lilian Thuram and tough-tackling Claude Makelele looked to have affected France's rearguard effectiveness less than three weeks before they play in Austria in their first 2010 World Cup qualifier on September 6. France then host Serbia four days later.
The back four of right back Bacary Sagna, central defenders Philippe Mexes and William Gallas, plus left back Patrice Evra, were far from the high standard of French teams over the last decade.
Steve Mandanda was in goal, Thierry Henry was captain in place of Patrick Vieira, playing up front with Karim Benzema, and Yoann Gourcuff of Bordeaux earned his first cap when he came on in the second minute of injury time.
It must surely have been a relief for France to get back to winning ways following their Euro 2008 exit in the group stages with six goals conceded.
France coach Raymond Domenech, speaking to French television, admitted things had not all gone according to plan.
“There were difficult moments but the players were able to dig deep as they did at the end of the match,” Domenech said. “That was a positive. We scored three goals but conceded two.
“This was a more open team, a new team, a new generation with a new way of playing.”
Sweden had a number of scoring chances, bringing about Domenech to add: “That's part of the game. If you want to push forward, open the game a bit more, play more freely, you give chances to your opponents.
“But between winning 3-2 and 1-0, I would choose 3-2.”
Henrik Larsson scored for Sweden after just six minutes with a spectacular shot at waist height, though Benzema equalised on 19 minutes.
Two goals from Sidney Govou after the break gave the impression France would romp away with a goal spree, but Kim Kallstrom's penalty five minutes before time gave the Swedes a more respectable scoreline.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!