Euro 2021. When the Blues lose the recipe for victory

By dint of seeing the Blues reach at least the quarter-finals of each major competition (Euro and World) since 2012, we had almost forgotten that such early direct elimination does not happen only to others … Pushed towards the exit by a brave and well organized Swiss team who knew how to take advantage of their weaknesses (3-3 at the end of extra time, 5-4 defeat on penalties), Didier Deschamps’ men showed, Monday in Bucharest, too many gaps to claim to go further.

looking for the right formula

To tell the truth, it was several games that the Blues were not there… Apart from the first meeting against Germany in Munich – the only real score under control – the French have never convinced. Symptoms of this trial and error, the different playing systems used by the breeder in search of the right formula. After the 4-4-2 against Mannschaft and Hungary, the 4-2-3-1 against Portugal, France moved to 3-4-1-2 against Switzerland. An unprecedented three-way defense, with Clément Lenglet in the center, which was a big mistake, as evidenced by the Barcelona defender’s responsibility for the first Swiss goal. By returning to the usual 4-4-2 in the second half, without Lenglet, Deschamps showed he did not know where he was going.

Defense has always been the strong point of the teams built by Deschamps. At the 2018 World Cup, the Blues had built their success on this impassable wall. At Euro 2021, except against Germany, the French defense looked like a sieve with goals conceded in each match until the Swiss recital. Weakened by injuries, the back line gradually lost its serenity by accumulating marking errors (Pavard), placement (Varane) or a hand fault (Koundé) which triggered the 2nd Portuguese penalty. Even captain Hugo Lloris (128 caps) received a yellow card, which could have been red, by making a dangerous exit against the Portuguese Danilo Pereira … “Our strong point was this solidity. (…) If we were less solid, it’s a set of things, with imponderables too ”, Deschamps point.

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The accumulation of injuries obviously did not help. Between the K.-O. of Benjamin Pavard against Germany then his bad fall against Hungary, the blow received by Jules Koundé, the damaged knee of Lucas Hernandez, the muscular injury of Lucas Digne, the infirmary was quickly full, not to mention the package by Ousmane Dembélé. Absences which highlighted the shortcomings at the right-back position. With Pavard reduced, Deschamps had to use the central defender Koundé against employment.

The Blues also lacked lucidity, for example with the ball lost by Paul Pogba which led to the Swiss equalizer. At the end of an extended season, started after the end of the first confinement, more than 50 club games for some like Griezmann (51 with FC Barcelona), the Blues have not experienced their usual performance. This fatigue resulted in the inability to lock the match against the Swiss at 3-1 but also a lack of efficiency in the last gesture, like Mbappé (47 games with PSG), who did not has not scored a single goal in this Euro.

We can always note that the indebted attacking trident Griezmann-Mbappé -Benzema has gradually improved but time is precisely what is lacking in a competition. Karim Benzema’s recall in May came too late. Long silent in front of the goal, the Madrilenian ended up registering two doubles against Portugal and Switzerland but it is at the stage of the month of March that “DD” should have made him come back to perfect the automatisms that the trio clearly had. not in this Euro.

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A little less than a year and a half before the 2022 World Cup, the group nevertheless retains strong potential. The coach, whose contract expires after the World Cup, does not seem threatened, even if the goal of the last four is not reached. “We should have skipped that round, underlines Noël Le Graët, president of the FFF. (…) I’m disappointed. ” And to add: “We will have to discuss. ”

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