Le Bleu had to rely on the brilliance and individuality of West Ham United play maker Dimitri Payet once more on the EURO 2016 opening fixture against Romania yesterday, to edge narrowly past the Tricorilii in a 2-1 game that saw them pick all the three points.
Prior to the fixture and tournament in general, fans, critics, pundits and media alike labelled them favorites to emerge winners on home soil. Given the array of talent that the country boasts, Le Bleu were tipped to be the most exciting team with perfect balance on paper other than Germany in the tournament. That being said, you would expect Didier Deschamps’ side to step up and dominate in a David-Goliath fixture, of course them being Goliath but that wasn’t to be.
Were it not for Spurs’ Hugo Lloris, France would have conceded a goal from a corner-kick just four minutes into the match. Poor man marking topped up with clumsy defending by Adil Rami and Laurent Koscielny in the area, Le Bleu were lucky not to have been punished then as the man between the sticks made a perfect save to deny Stancu just three yards out.
France were rocking hard in defence giving out set pieces that the underdogs didn’t effectively utilize, Rami and Koscielny often being shaky and Manchester United Legend Evra caught off-guard the first 20 minutes of the game often had France on their toes.
Arsenal’s danger man Olivier Giroud was in his usual wasteful self, heading the ball wide on 10 minutes and often being caught offside as Pogba, Griezmann, Kante and Payet sought him especially in the final third. Up until his goal on the 23rd minute, Giroud was ineffective in play, allowing the defensive combination of Gregore and Chiriches dominate.
France had a couple of good chances in both halves that they could have pounced on and taken advantage of but the underdogs were well in control with superb defending, great organization in defense that often kept the French men out.
Le bleu was to put the game to bed early but with 13 attempts 7 of which were off target, sloppy in possession, often giving the ball away and clumsy in the final third, they were far from being the favorites we all think them to be, considering the team they were facing and the talent in their disposal.
N’golo Kante was brilliant in midfield, showing impeccable skills and technicality in reading the game and controlling its pace and so was Pogba, who often gave the audience something to cheer for with cheeky skills and technique. PSG maestro Matuidi was also superb but was often frustrated trying to open up the Tricorilii defense which was very solid.
France grew into the game and Giroud squandered the opportunities, Griezmann was unlucky to be denied twice by the woodwork and by Tricorilii defense. Deschamps’ substitution also was tactically questionable which I saw a gamble that paid but a gamble either way. Bayern Munich wonder-kid came in for Griezmann, Martial for Pogba leaving wasteful Giroud on. Martial for Giroud would be ideal leaving Griezmann a little longer to exploit spaces in the area since he was more lively then bring Coman in for him later on. Pogba would be very effective in looking for spaces and exploiting them and is a real threat on goal.
In the dying minutes of the game, Le Bleu looked tired and comfortable with taking just a point home until the mighty Payet stepped up and delivered in scintillating fashion scoring a screamer past Ciprian Tatarusanu. Payet and Le Bleu might have stolen the three points but their game play was not convincing and undeserving of the credit as favorites. Tricorilii might have lost but will be delighted by the way they played against the Home team. To win the tournament on home soil the real France has to turn up and stand up.
In case you missed the match enjoy the highlights here…..