Well launched in the race for Euro 2024 with two victories in as many matches, the French team got back on track after the World Cup final with an already well-established hierarchy, a fulfilled captain and young people who assert themselves.
Maignan-Konaté-Upamecano, the new golden triangle
These three have a lot to do with the successes against the The Netherlands, Friday (4-0), and in Republic of IrelandMonday (1-0). Still substitutes six months ago, Mike Maignan, Ibrahima Konate et Dayot Upamecano already look like potential starters in this French team post-World.
The international retreats of Captain Hugo Lloris a you vice-captain Raphaël Varane could have left a big void in the tricolor rearguard, but the three players shone in Saint-Denis then in Dublin despite their 10 selections on average. “With the battle fought on Friday and the trip, having kept this solidity is important”, remarked the coach Didier Deschamps.
The Blues had not started a qualifying campaign for a major competition with two wins without conceding a single goal for almost 40 years and qualifying for the 1986 World Cup.
Kolo Muani and Camavinga, hierarchy upset?
At the heart of this first gathering after the World Cup, two young shooters with long teeth stood out: Eduardo Camavinga and Randal Kolo Muani.
At only 20 years old, the first seems to have reached maturity: established in Dublin at the expense of his club partner Aurelien Tchouamenihe impressed with his activity and pressing. “I wanted to have his technical quality to play the team, adding to it the confidence he has and his ability to recover balls”, appreciated Deschamps, who had initially summoned the Madrid player as left-back N.2.
The other big winner of the truce is called Randal Color. At 24, the Frankfurt striker is full of confidence in Germany, with eight goals and two assists to his name in 2023.
As a center forward against the Netherlands, or even on one side as against the Irish, “Kolo” has established himself as a serious candidate for the eleven-type with a view to the Euro, weakening Olivier Giroud (36 years old) . “He is a continuation of what he does at the club and with us. He takes up space because of what he showed in the two matches”, underlined Deschamps.
Mbappé, the armband and the smile
One of the big events of this first course of the year was the awarding of the captain’s armband To Kylian Mbappe. After his eight goals at the World Cup, the Parisian continued his takeover in March, with visible enthusiasm on and off the pitch.
His double against the Netherlands launched the Blues well in their playoffs, and his much more discreet performance on Monday did not prevent him from displaying a broad smile after the meeting. On the goal of Benjamin Pavard, he is even the first to fall into the arms of the Bavarian ghost.
More than ever, Mbappé asserts himself at 24 as the leader of the new wave, this generation which “does not always take the importance of the stakes, which allows him to play high-pressure matches as if they were lambda matches”, as he described it on Sunday.
“The identity of this generation is this desire for greatness, to show that we can do great things,” he said.
Some questions remain
Before facing Gibraltar in Faro (Portugal) and Greece in Saint-Denis, in June, Deschamps nevertheless has some lines of thought ahead of him.
The first concerns the midfield: the possible returns of N’Golo Kanté and Paul Pogba do they risk disrupting the development of the typical team? Until then, the trio Antoine Griezmann – Tchouaméni – Adrien Rabiot has convinced, with Camavinga as a luxury alternative.
The other doubt concerns the side. Without Lucas Hernandez, seriously injured in Qatar, the left flank is depopulated: Theo Hernandez delivered an insipid and even sometimes worrying performance against Ireland and Camavinga cannot remain a lasting option in this position which is not his.
On the right, Pavard’s winning return did not hide some shortcomings in the offensive contribution, and the N.1 of the position, Jules Koundé, is not a full-back either…