League of Nations: after an attractive autumn, Blues without ideas at the start of summer

He may have pleased a young supporter who came down to claim his jersey, Karim Benzema looked crestfallen, like his teammates. For their fourth match in this 2022 Nations League, the Blues once again failed to find the key, Monday June 13, with a defeat against the Croats (0-1). Worse, they showed almost nothing.

The France team has lost its chances of retaining its title in the competition, but it also ends a series of 23 games in a row with at least one goal scored per game, which began in November 2020. Ended these games where the Blues knew how to react after conceding a first goal. They had not lost for ten games in this situation. But this time, the ideas that allow such scenarios to happen are gone.

When a player fails a team and it shows so much, it’s never a good sign. For once, the absentees are not always wrong. Didier Deschamps is certainly looking forward to the return of Paul Pogba to his team, he who is still performing well with the Blues and who would certainly have been able to find some saving shifts against the Croatian lock.

Without the now ex-midfielder of Manchester United, the France team went through this June rally by linking periods without movement, without a well-identified background. “This type of executive players necessarily have a role in the state of mind, the character and the collective strength“, noted Didier Deschamps on Monday evening. This is what the Blues lacked in June, with an edifying contrast after the fall when they had been able to master, admittedly with unequal performances, the offensive springs of a 3-4 -1-2.

After the defeat against Denmark ten days ago at the Stade de France, during which Kylian Mbappé gave up his place at half-time, this system gave way to a line of four defenders. This one did not simply fail to respond to the setbacks of an inexperienced tricolor defense, which multiplied the small errors during these four games. She also derailed a hitherto well-oiled offensive machine. Like Monday’s match, the Blues struggled to find each other and chained side exchanges, without managing to find the opening forward.

The statistics leaned well in favor of the French against Croatia, with 17 shots to four, but the “expected goals”, the chances of a goal depending on the position of a shot, says it all: 0.9 for both teams. Thus, France has never really been able to put themselves in the right position to find the way to the opposing nets.

In the absence of Pogba, the circles lacked creativity and binding during this gathering. Aurélien Tchouaméni has great qualities, but not yet those of his elder in the offensive game. Mattéo Guendouzi, Boubacar Kamara and Adrien Rabiot are less focused on the front. Salvation could have come from Antoine Griezmann, but the latter is going through the most difficult period of his career.

Throughout the second half tonight, Jonathan Clauss heated up like crazy at the edge of the Dionysian lawn, hoping to come into play with a return of 3-4-1-2. In vain. Didier Deschamps remained on his desire to finish the meeting with four defenders. The coach has in fact abandoned the assumed imbalance towards the offensive implied by the system allowing Griezmann, Mbappé and Benzema to be close in attack.

Not having succeeded in putting the attackers in the best conditions to find the opening constitutes one of the failures of the evening. “It was nice to play three, four or five on this rally, it was complicated“from the physical point of view, specified Deschamps.

This is obviously one of the data to take into account at the end of the season: the players seemed to run out of fuel during this whole gathering. They will be able to refuel before the resumption of international matches at the start of the school year.



League of Nations: after an attractive autumn, Blues without ideas at the start of summer