In what was a rather emotional night at the Stade de France, Les Bleus took on Sweden in what on paper threatened to be a potential banana skin. Despite the upset threat, France went on to win the game 2-1 thanks to goals from Raphael Varane and Dimitri Payet after Emil Forsberg of RB Leipzig opened the scoring for the Swedes.
But how did the starting XI of France perform? Let’s take a look at the player ratings for Les Bleus.
Hugo Lloris – 6
It was a weird night between the sticks for the captain. He was fairly solid for the majority of the game, but the one time he slipped up caused the Sweden opener. Forsberg’s free kick had some dip on it, but Lloris took a step to his right, which meant he couldn’t quite come back across goal to stop the shot. Apart from that, Lloris was probably the reason as to why France didn’t go into half time one goal down.
Patrice Evra – 6
Given his experience at the top level, Evra would be an asset to any national side. He returned back to the starting line up tonight and he was stable at the back and provided a good amount of attacking threat whenever he could. When Layvin Kurzawa comes back he will likely reclaim his place in the side, but having such a solid defender in Evra in reserve can never be a bad thing.
Laurent Koscielny – 6
As per usual, Koscielny played a vital role in the heart of the defence and got in some important blocks and tackles in at certain periods in the game. It may not have been a vintage Koscielny performance given the lack of action in the first half, but when the Arsenal man was called into action he dealt with any danger and provided a good platform for the midfield.
Raphael Varane – 7
A good defensive performance and a goal for the Real Madrid man, with only a clean sheet missing, which would have made tonight an almost perfect night. He rose highest in the box to power home Dimitri Payet’s free kick, although Pogba got the final touch, and like his defensive partner Koscielny, he always answered when he was called upon. Him and Koscielny’s partnership is really starting to blossom, and if they can get them playing regularly until 2018, France will have a gem of a defence on their hands.
Djibril Sidibé – 5
Sidibé is slowly making the right back position his own, but sometimes in the transition period you will have games where you’re just absent from the game. Tonight, Sidibé was absent. Most of the play went down the opposite flank as opposed to his side with Moussa Sissoko, but whenever he did get the ball the Monaco full back was rather dull. Some would say he was being safe on the ball, but as a full back you have to have an attacking mindset, and Sidibé didn’t show his attacking side tonight, at least not as often as many would have liked.
Blaise Matuidi – 6
Not the flashiest of nights for Matuidi, but the PSG anchor was good in the middle of the park next to Paul Pogba. For Matuidi, he has to be the midfielder that allows Pogba the time to express himself, and if that means restricting his lung-busting runs into the box then so be it. Tonight was an example of Matuidi adapting his role to suit the team, and he did rather well in the middle as per usual.
Paul Pogba – 6
Pogba had a lot of the ball this evening, and had a lot of time on the ball but he didn’t as well as he would’ve wanted and would’ve expected. Maybe it’s a confidence issue with Pogba taking his Manchester United form into the national set up, but he did show signs of more self-belief and knowing that at any given time, he can change the game. There were some positives in Pogba’s game tonight, but he just wasn’t able to kick down the door.
Moussa Sissoko – 5
Sometimes for Tottenham Hotspur this season, Sissoko has found it hard to create chances, have a good first touch and even pass the ball to those in the same shirt as him. For the national side he seems to have more of an idea of how to pass in a straight line, but tonight he didn’t look at the races. I know my critique of Sissoko may seem harsh, but if it wasn’t for his pace and power when he runs, chances are he wouldn’t make the squad. When some of the younger players in the squad develop over the course of the season, I feel it will be hard for the former Newcastle man to keep his place.
Antoine Griezmann – 6
Griezmann certainly had the chances this game, and I remain convinced that on any other night he probably would have had a hat trick. But tonight just wasn’t his night in front of goal. He always caused the Swedish defence trouble, and didn’t stop in his attempts to hit the back of the net, but he just didn’t hit the right notes at the vital times.
Dimitri Payet – 8
My Man of the Match, Dimitri Payet was the difference in tonight’s game as his goal won the game and his cross set up the equalizer to bring Les Bleus back into the game. He had the best chance of the first half when he tried to bend the ball into the far corner, but the second half belonged to the former Marseille midfielder. He was the match winner in the summer during the European Championships, and tonight was a night for Payet to bail out France once more.
Olivier Giroud – 4
Tonight was Olivier Giroud’s chance to prove to Didier Deschamps why he should be the first choice signing, but unfortunately for the Arsenal front man it didn’t go quite as he would’ve have liked. The game just seemed to pass him by no matter what he tried to do, and as much as he tried, he just couldn’t do anything.