I have to say I was excited to see how the highly-talented French side would do at this summer’s World Cup. However, Les Bleus opening game a 2-1 victory over Australia was highly disappointing.
Didier Deschamps team recorded a victory after a high contentious penalty kick from Antoine Griezmann and a deflected Paul Pogba strike. The all-around performance was very flat from the French.
Very fortunate to win
The luck was on Les Bleus side. The Socceroo’s looked very comfortable in the first half of the game. It took a highly debatable penalty decided by VAR for the French to take the lead.
Even after VAR and multiple replays, there was still a split opinion on whether Josh Risdon had brought down Antoine Griezmann early in the second half. It was the sort of decision that could really have gone either way.
Australia scored arguably a deserved equaliser from the spot courtesy of a Mile Jedinak penalty after an inexplicable handball from Barcelona centre-back Samuel Umtiti. The French scored the winner with ten minutes remaining on the clock, as Pogba’s deflected effort looped over Mat Ryan and bounced over the line off the bar.
France may utilise Giroud next time out
France has so much talent in their squad, especially attacking talent. However, the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele and Kylian Mbappe failed to combine in attack for Les Bleus. The decision from French boss Didier Deschamps to field all three was understandable.
All three players are exciting and vibrant attacking players. However, all three struggled to have an impact on the game. Griezmann’s contribution was only winning and then scoring the penalty. Apart from a few early touches, Dembele and Mbappe appeared virtually invisible.
Deschamps decided to turn to Plan B in the second half, as he introduced Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud from the substitute’s bench. Giroud is not as technically gifted as Griezmann, Mbappe or Dembele, but he provides a focal point for the attack.
The experienced former Arsenal striker also links up well with Griezmann Atletico Madrid star. Griezmann plays well when he plays in the pocket behind Giroud, as it is the classic big man-small man combination. The Chelsea striker has been a favourite of Deschamps in recent games.
Giroud may be restored to the French starting line-up for their next game in Russia. He could start with the talented trio of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele in behind him, with Paul Pogba playing a deeper role.
France started the game with two essentially defensive midfielders in the shape of N’Golo Kante and Corentin Tolisso. Les Bleus really did not need that sort of protection for their defence, as Australia’s priority was to keep out the French forward line.
It seems clear that the starting line-up did not work out. It gives food for thought for boss Deschamps for the rest of the tournament.
France still one of the favourites
Despite their disappointing first game performance, France are still one of the favourites to win the World Cup at odds of 13/2.
France will be keen to move on from that opening game, having picked up a victory. No doubt there is plenty more to come from Deschamps team at Russia 2018.
Les Bleus have a reputation for blowing hot and cold. The game against Australia was definitely the talented team blowing cold. When they face Peru in the next Group C game then they may be on fire.
If France are to lift the World Cup this summer, then their big players have to up their performance in Russia. If not, then Les Bleus could be in for another disappointing World Cup campaign.
Can France get it together in World Cup 2018?
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