Despite the disappointment, here is what we want to see again in these Blues (and what we will have to quickly resolve)

No one will hide behind his little finger, neither at the Federation, where Noël Le Graët had set the semi-final as a minimum goal, nor among the players who paraded at a press conference in early June to claim their status as the best team in the world: yes, this Euro is a failure, the worst performance of the Blues in a major tournament since the South African disaster in 2010. With a single inaugural victory followed by a series of three draws, punctuated by an overall embarrassing performance against Switzerland , the world champions leave a continental competition prematurely that they will never have left their mark on.

After France-Switzerland: “Thanks to this magnificent defeat, hope is reborn”

And yet, in this football calendar disrupted by the pandemic, no time to think about it: all eyes are already on Qatar, where the World Cup begins (already) in seventeen months. If there are still five playoff games and experience will teach them not to take any lead for granted, the Blues should be in line to defend their title in the emirate, the arch-favorite status less. So what can we expect from the coming period?

An attacking trio that hinted at promises

On paper, the Blues had by far the most beautiful attacking line of the tournament (which has never filled any trophy cabinet). The whole of Europe was waiting to see what would give, reunited for the first time, the triplet Benzema-Mbappé-Griezmann: if the record is obviously mixed, the trio still has five goals and two assists to its credit. But intermittently, and even in the smallest spaces, these three players who had never played together suddenly found themselves with their eyes closed, with a game of deflection in triangle much more polished than the counter-attacks in “kick and rush” mode. Of 2018, and all the more frustrating as it seemed, in these moments of lightning, to relate to the very nature of their game.

Everyone will have had their strong and weak times during these four games so strange: much more discreet than in 2016 when he had splashed the tournament of his class, Griezmann was able to accelerate when no one succeeded, equalizing against Hungary in a trap match. His replacement by Sissoko before the Swiss equalizer, Monday, will have deprived the Blues of its ability to force fate in the opposite moments. Ghostly in the first two games, Benzema was decisive in the last two, with two pure finisher doubles as a result and a leadership attitude that he had never known during his first life with the France team. In hens, Mbappé has shown himself to be true to himself, creator and dynamite, tireless swallower of space, sometimes even developing a less selfish game than at PSG. But his sterility against the nets found a finishing touch against Switzerland, where his first shot on target was … his missed shot on goal, after two hours of play.

“Sorry for this penalty”: Kylian Mbappé apologizes after his missed goal

The abortive comeback of Benzema, who was gaining momentum and equaling Zidane’s Blue goals on Monday night, is by far the most frustrating aspect of this elimination: collapsed after the penalties, he was in the last to leave the lawn after the defeat. Yes, we want to review this armada and give it time to break in in anticipation of the Nations League and Qatar: Deschamps’ choice to summon the Real Madrid striker just before the competition prevented them from finding their automatisms, and his desire to align them together at kick-off at all costs forced him to change his usual system.

Cascading injuries

Reduced to the role of luxury jokers, Giroud in the box, Dembélé and Coman on the wings, were supposed to bring the final blow at the end of the match, like late matadors. Authors of good returns, the three remained silent without being able to really blame them, as on the crossbar struck by Coman at the last second of regulation time on Monday evening. Injured a handful of minutes after his comeback against Hungary, Ousmane Dembélé could not achieve two promising appearances. With Digne, Hernandez, Lemar and Koundé, he joined the long list of the slaughter suffered by the Blues, who suffered in the heat of Budapest at the end of a necessarily special season on the physical level after the long hiatus pandemic.

If Dembélé could be replaced at a moment’s notice by Coman, it was on the other hand impossible in defense where successive injuries pushed Deschamps to last-minute tactical tinkering which he usually hates. Defense three, four, with two pistons: we even saw Rabiot replace Digne (who was already replacing Hernandez) at the left-back position against Portugal and Coman replace Lenglet, totally lost in central defense against Switzerland. On the right, the chronic inadequacies of Pavard, who caused a penalty on Monday evening, hide the desert that persists at this position in the Blue fishpond. Can they be filled in the medium term by the young Jules Koundé, interesting against Portugal for his debut in a major tournament? The sinking of the three-way defense (Varane, Kimpembe and Lenglet) against Switzerland, light years from the rock that had disgusted the Germans in the first match, is undoubtedly to be blamed on the tactical improvisations of a Deschamps less inspired than usual.

Between insolent success and naivety

As at the World Cup, it is still when the environment is fine that everything is going: by his versatility and his ardor, Rabiot has confirmed his new status as a frame of the Blues. Less sparkling than at the World Cup, N’Golo Kanté still raked relentlessly. Except perhaps against Hungary, Paul Pogba seemed to him even stronger than in 2018, overlooking the battle of the midfielder with his physical scale and his nonchalant elegance, like this shot in the top twenty-eight. five meters which should have buried the Helvetii at a quarter of an hour from the end. And the space of twenty minutes, the Blues seemed to revive their insolent success of the World Cup: penalty stopped by an impeccable Lloris, Benzema who scores in stride by dragging the ball with a miraculous piece of heel, which doubles the put into euphoria, Pogba who finds the net for the first time since Moscow at the climax of a fury of rapid counter-attacks …

After France-Germany: “The beauty of the gesture, nevertheless, it is not nothing”

Yes, for a few rare moments, everything laughed in this Euro. In tiny snatches, the France team has lived up to its great promises, those that even its title of world champion had only glimpsed. But against Switzerland, as against Hungary, she entered the field without suspicion, the lead in the next game. His unshakeable confidence in his lucky star then turned into naivety, sufficient some would say. Fallen from her little cloud, she can now get rid of this champion complex that suits her so badly, and go back into battle with an appetite for pride to be won back. Kylian Mbappé, still eager to take charge of the tricolor destinies despite his 22 years, must take the blow. His missed shot on goal, like a symbol of the stopping blow, can spell the end of an era like becoming a page of his future golden legend, of these incidents of course which enrich a dramaturgy. We are already impatient to see this.

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