Aside from a few long-term injuries (Kurt Zouma) and knocks, (Hugo Lloris, Christophe Jallet) Didier Deschamps was able to call on a familiar group of players for yesterday’s friendly against Italy. Whether this is a good thing or a bad in the wake of Euro 2016 is another matter, but there was a certain level of placidity ahead of the match.
This is not to say, however, that there wasn’t some level of intrigue surrounding it. Not only would Italy’s Giampiero Ventura be making his managerial debut, but Deschamps would begin the long process of blooding in new full backs. Djibril Sidibe made his full debut, and Layvin Kurzawa’s fine start to the season was rewarded with his first appearance in nearly two years. The two new faces were readily involved in the match, although perhaps not always as one expected.
Eric Devin looks at just exactly how the French fared.
Steve Mandanda – 6
To suggest he could’ve done better with Pelle’s goal would be a bit harsh, but did well to cut off angles on balls on the ground. Wasn’t as masterful as he can be in the air, but remains one of the world’s better backup ‘keepers.
Djibril Sidibe – 5
Picked up a needless booking, and offered little in terms of his crossing. Did turn in a fairly solid defensive display, though, De Sciglio was barely a factor, especially compared to Candreva.
Raphael Varane – 5
A bizarre choice to wear the captain’s armband (Koscielny? Matuidi? Pogba?) in the absence of Lloris, the Real Madrid player gave a clear indication of why he’s failed to become first choice under Zidane. Spun too easily for the goal and lucky not to give away a penalty a few minutes later, although he was decent aerially.
Laurent Koscielny – 6.5
Generally a composed display, with a good range of passing. Showed a bit more intent to get forward than usual, which was helpful in the absence of Umtiti
Layvin Kurzawa – 7
Did struggle at times with Candreva’s movement and dribbling, but more than made up for it going forward. Was a prime factor in Barzagli ‘s halftime removal.
Paul Pogba – 6.5
Could be a bit anonymous, but his assist for Martial was sublime. First touch was often elusive, but generally a strong two-way performance.
N’Golo Kante – 6
A mistake-free if not terribly influential performance. Perhaps might’ve offered more on the counter, but was always fighting an uphill battle in terms of midfield numbers.
Blaise Matuidi – 5
A thoroughly anonymous performance. Very difficult to see why Deschamps hasn’t paid more attention to Tolisso, Rabiot, Diarra or even Kondobgia.
Antoine Griezmann – 5.5
Rarely sparkled, but could’ve been victim to some muddled tactics. While France were nominally playing a 4-3-3, the formation could look like a diamond at times, with the Atletico player ill-used as a de facto no. 10.
Olivier Giroud – 6
The goal is a welcome bonus, but generally a solid performance. France don’t miss Benzema in terms of raw numbers.
Anthony Martial – 5.5
Will be glad of the goal, breaking his international duck, but was peripheral otherwise. Like Griezmann, sometimes seemed unsure of his role.
Andre-Pierre Gignac – 4.5
His involvement in Euro 2016 continues to baffle. Barely got a touch, would Deschamps have been better suited to giving Martial a run, with Payet wide?
Dimitri Payet – 5.5
Wasn’t as influential as he can be, but showed how much France miss his creativity. Like several other players, doesn’t look as rested as he could be.
Moussa Sissoko – 6
His energy was impressive as always, showed why he should start ahead of Matuidi. Will continue to be an important player for Deschamps.
Ousmane Dembele – 5
A big occasion for the youngster, who had a bold but inefficient evening. As with several others, may have been hindered by tactical issues.
Samuel Umtiti, Lucas Digne – No Grade