Groupama Stadium, France – Les Bleus were up against a very defensive, young American side for their last preparation game ahead of the World Cup. The USMNT played a tight defensive game for 90 minutes, obviously wary of the attacking talent France boasts. The game ended 1-1, a score which did not reflect the actual game. A visibly fatigued France dominated and the USMNT showed very little going forward.
A rare defensive mistake from Monaco right-back Djibril Sidibe and subsequently Hugo Lloris allowed Julian Green to take an undeserved lead at the end of the first half. Lloris has made some errors recently but Deschamps can rely on his captain to show his best form at the World Cup. Kudos to Julian Green, who keeps on scoring goals against high profile opponents, for pouncing on Sidibe’s mistake.
Breaking up tight opponents
France enter the World Cup in a group featuring Peru, Australia and Denmark. Its fair to say they have three games where the opponents will park the bus and play on the counter. In that context, the USA game was a perfect final preparation game. After going down 1-0, the onus was on the French offensive talent to create opportunities in between the US defensive lines.
The French team had a good passing game and penetrated the US defence multiple times. The only thing that was missing was more goals. Deschamps will also be confident he can rely on his subs to change the game at the World Cup. All his substitutes had a positive impact on the game.
Pavard, Hernandez, Fekir impress from the bench
France’s number 10 Kylian Mbappe scored the equalizing goal with a great finish. The goal was the product of good combination play between Benjamin Pavard and Nabil Fekir. Pavard, a relatively unknown defender from the Bundesliga, was instrumental on the right wing from the moment he replaced Sidibe. His defensive and offensive tactical positioning helped unlock the game. Lucas Hernandez was also effective on the left wing, tormenting the USMNT right wing back and winning important fouls and corners.
Last, but not least, Nabil Fekir was impressive. In his home stadium, the French playmaker showed exactly why Liverpool are after his signature. His magnificent free-kick almost resulted in a goal but a double save from the US goalkeeper prevented Les Bleus from scoring.
Pogba-Kante-Matuidi midfield works
The French midfield three of Pogba, Kante and Matuidi showed their talent. Kante was a tireless runner the whole game, intercepting the ball and launching attacks from his pivot position. Matuidi is an amazing box-to-box midfielder. Its clear why Juventus signed him from PSG. Paul Pogba repeatedly showed his class with world class dribbles and play making. His beautiful driven shot in the first half, when the teams were level, was only stopped by the bar.
Deschamps has a well balanced midfield and there is no worry of complacency among these three since Bayern Munich’s Corentin Tolisso is waiting in the shadows ready to pounce on any opportunity he gets.
Expect France to go deep at the World Cup
France showed their depth today. Not only can they summon top players from the bench, the substitutes seemed to blend in seamlessly. It’s telling that Lemar has managed very few minutes in the three preparation games. Such is the quality of this French squad.
One worrying point is the youth of some of the players Deschamps uses regularly. Sidibe, Mbappe, Dembele, Mendy, Hernandez, Tolisso, Pogba, Varane, Umtiti – all these players are under 26. Hopefully, mixing them with experienced players like Kante, Lloris and Matuidi can help bring the best out of this team.
Many of the current players experienced Euro 2016. They will be raring to win the trophy this time.
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