The air of big matches visibly awakens the champions. The one against Portugal looked like a final and that it was the one leading to the anecdotal League of Nations does not change the case even if the Blues are sure to qualify for the Final 4. If an unblocked fault from Hernandez on Trincão could have offered a penalty to the Portuguese at the end of the match (88th), a draw would not have reflected the immense performance of the world champions. “The France team is still a great team,” said Didier Deschamps at the microphone of TF1 after the meeting.
The desire to overthrow their executioners of 2016 in the final of the Euro has given strength to players who have sometimes been seen bloodless in recent weeks, torn by series of physical glitches or just worn out by an ubiquitous schedule. “We were solid and united,” summarized Raphaël Varane. The relegation to the bench of Olivier Giroud, ghostly Wednesday against Finland (0-2) while he hardly plays at Chelsea, also shows that the statutes do not protect forever. Didier Deschamps reminded us forcefully at seven months of a Euro for which the holders against the Scandinavians have certainly lost a great deal of credit.
Among them, only Paul Pogba was also entitled to a second chance and the Manchester United midfielder did not miss the opportunity to recall that at his true level, he was essential to the Blues. Aggressive in the recovery, the Mancunien is also at the origin of the first very big opportunity of the game on a vertical pass which pierces the whole Portuguese block to find Griezmann (12th). A constant influence that he could have haloed with a goal if he had not missed his head, alone against Rui Patricio (58th).
Rabiot scored points, Martial must do better
But in Pogba’s wake, the entire backbone of the Blues has regained strength. Varane and Kimpembe muzzled Cristiano Ronaldo, N’Golo Kanté had enough legs to multiply back and forth until six meters from where he opened the scoring (53rd) and Griezmann found his baton as conductor of the great orchestra of the splendid . All magnified by a big performance from Lloris, author of three stops in front of CR7 (6th), Fernandes (20th) or Moutinho (75th) then saved by his post on a head of Fonte (60th).
In terms of satisfaction, the performance of Adrien Rabiot shows that the page of his ousting after his refusal to be a reservist at the 2018 World Cup has definitely been turned. In a position of left winger occupied by Blaise Matuidi during the conquest of the World Cup, the Juventus midfielder adapted with disconcerting ease to this new role, moving easily from a defensive register to that of ‘a true striker, his powerful strike being the origin of the goal. A tenth selection full of promises.
It will take much more, however, for Martial to dislodge Giroud if the second top scorer in the history of the Blues regains playing time in the coming months. The high level is judged on details and its failures in front of Rui Patricio (12th, 65th, 41st), his strike to the side (27th) or his recovery of the head on the bar (31st) at the end of a school action. prevented the Blues from taking cover and giving their victory the sparkle it deserved.
Half time: 0-0.
Spectators: in camera.
Referee: M. Stieler (All).
Goal. France: Kanté (54th).
Warnings. Portugal: Danilo (31st). France: Lloris (62nd), Kanté (79th), Hernandez (82nd).
Portugal: Rui Patricio – Cancelo, Fonte, Dias, Guerreiro – Danilo (S. Oliveira, 85e), W. Carvalho (Diogo Jota, 56e) – B. Silva (Trincao, 72e), B. Fernandes (Moutinho, 72e), Felix (Paulinho, 85e) – Cristiano Ronaldo (ch.). Entr. : Fernando Santos.
France: Lloris (cap.) – Pavard, Varane, Kimpembe, Hernandez – Coman (Thuram, 59th), Kanté, Pogba, Rabiot – Griezmann, Martial (Giroud, 78th). Entr. : The fields.