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PLAYER RATINGS | France 3-1 Italy – how the French fared

Hugo Lloris – 4

After sitting out the midweek win against Ireland, captain Lloris made his return to the starting XI tonight and it is safe to say that he didn’t exactly cover himself with glory for Italy’s only goal. Mario Balotelli’s free-kick was hit with some power but Lloris should have had enough to turn it further away from goal or catch it, rather than putting it back in danger’s way. However, despite his mistake, you would be foolish to suggest that he will lose his starting place for the World Cup. He is the captain and remains reliable nine times out of 10.

Benjamin Pavard – 6

A very reliable player to have at right-back but while Pavard offers more defensive stability than his competitor Djibril Sidibé, the Monaco man has the advantage in terms of a starting berth due to his attacking prowess. Tonight, Pavard was assured and did not look overwhelmed by international football and could easily deputise for Sidibé if worse comes to worst.

Adil Rami – 6 

Most people are rather pessimistic when they see the team sheet and Rami is there and whilst he may not be as imperious as Raphael Varane, he has hardly put a foot wrong in these past two games against Italy and Ireland. He is an assured, calming and experienced presence at the back and is not as error-prone as many perceive him to be, even if a bit slow. Sure, he will not be a starter in Russia (unless someone gets injured) but he has the trust and backing from Didier Deschamps and performances like his one tonight showed why.

Samuel Umtiti – 6.5

A goal and a good performance from the Barcelona man who is really growing into a top class central defender. He may have made some poorly time tackles in this fixture, something he does need to work on, however every other aspect of his game was impressive tonight and one hopes that if he and Varane hit the ground running in Russia, they could become an impenetrable force.

Lucas Hernandez – 7.5

When I was watching tonight’s game I thought “Is it not a shame Hernandez has to compete with Benjamin Mendy? He’ll hardly see any minutes,” but then it dawned on me… Mendy is not 100% fit and Hernandez showed tonight that if he is called upon in the World Cup, then Mendy might not be missed at all. He was fantastic going forward tonight and defensively sound whenever called upon. If there is such a thing as playing your way into a starting XI at this stage of World Cup preperations, then Hernandez tried his hardest to obtain it tonight.

Paul Pogba – 5.5

Not a typical, unplayable Pogba performance, but this was always going to be a game to get him up to fitness and to test his legs against the level of opposition that France plan to play in the World Cup. His performance itself was rather uneventful, but it was more about building fitness tonight rather than focusing on missed flicks and passes.

N’Golo Kanté – 6.5

Like Pogba, this was a fitness test for Kanté after a long season with Chelsea and in typical Kanté fashion, he passed it well. He nearly got himself on the scoresheet, when his shot from outside the box smacked against the upright, but this was a game to get his legs working at the level expected in international football and to begin to try to garner a relationship in the 4-3-3 set-up alongside Pogba and Corentin Tolisso.

Corentin Tolisso – 8

Speaking of Tolisso, I think we are getting to a stage where it would be silly for Deschamps to not include the Bayern man in a starting XI. His performances against Italy and Ireland have been fantastic, with the former Lyon midfielder always looking a step quicker than anyone else, both with his feet and in his mind. He offers more control in the middle than Matuidi and whilst the Juventus man may have the edge when it comes to energy levels, does that really matter in a midfield alongside Pogba and Kanté?

Kylian Mbappé – 8

If you want to see a consistently electric performance from a trio in attack, Mbappé, Griezmann and Dembele are the ones for you. They had the Italians against the ropes time and time again, and while Mbappé may have been the only one not to get on the scoresheet, he was arguably the best player on the pitch as everything positive from France seemed to come through him.

Antoine Griezmann – 8

It’s not often that you can say Antoine Griezmann was the slowest player in a front three, but on this rare occasion he still stood out and was superb. His goal may’ve been a penalty, but he still had the coolness to slot it home and offered an impressive attitude to the game. It is no doubt that Griezmann will start for France in Russia, but the big question remains whether he will play in the middle of this front three or in a wide position to accommodate Olivier Giroud.

Ousmane Dembélé – 8

And if anyone was to make way for a potential return for Olivier Giroud, it would be this Barcelona man, despite his wonderful performance and delightful goal. It seems unfair that after such a good game we immediately ask whether he will even be playing, but such was his performance that he has potentially thrown Deschamps plans of basing an attack around Giroud up in the air. We all know the fondness the manager has for the Chelsea striker, but after seeing how Dembélé was able to bend the Italy defence around his fingers tonight, it would be a great shame to see him on the bench.

Substitutes:

Benjamin Mendy for Lucas Hernandez – 5

Thomas Lemar for Ousmane Dembélé – 5

Florian Thauvin for Kylian Mbappé – 5

Blaise Matuidi for Corentin Tolisso – N/A

Olivier Giroud for Antoine Griezmann – N/A 

Steven N’Zonzi for Paul Pogba – N/A

T.S.

 

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