We take a look at how Les Bleus fared as they comprehensively swept passed Albania 4-1, following an embarrassing start with an anthem mix-up resulting in a slightly delayed start.
Hugo Lloris: 5
Another quiet night for the captain as a weak Albania side rarely threatened. His team limited Albania to only one shot on target and that, annoyingly for Lloris, was his own fault as he brought down Sokol Cikalleshi late on for a penalty which was duly put away.
Lucas Hernandez: 8
A welcome return to the side for Hernandez. The now Bayern Munich based full-back put in a superb performance in his first outing for Didier Deschamps side since October last year. With little need for defensive duties, he was a constant threat down the left as he teed up Olivier Giroud for the second and won the penalty which Antoine Griezmann failed to convert. He was in the wars in the second half as he fell victim to a couple of strong challenges, one of which was a bodycheck which inadvertently turned into a dummy for Kingsley Coman to net the third. He was withdrawn late on for Lucas Digne, but managed to put in a timely reminder of just what a good player he is.
Raphael Varane: 7
Another assured display from Varane who looks as smooth as silk every time he dons the shirt of Les Bleus. Continuing the theme of very little needed in terms of defending, we were treated to a couple of glimpses at a forgotten attribute of Varane’s, namely distribution. His through ball to Coman for the opener was simply sumptuous as he split the Albanian team open with an inch-perfect pass. He followed that up with a raking cross-field ball to find Hernandez, via a Griezmann flick, which resulted in the Giroud goal.
Clement Lenglet: 6
International football will get tougher for Lenglet in what was only his second outing for France. Little was required from him during the game, however he was a little caught out by the pass which resulted in Albania winning that late penalty. He posed a threat from set pieces and headed an early corner just over. He certainly didn’t give Deschamps much concern and can be happy that he remains in the box seat as far as partnering Varane at the back. Having taken Samuel Umtiti’s place for club and country and Aymeric Laporte finally getting a long overdue call up, only to cruelly suffer an injury, Lenglet will have more chances to firmly plant his flag in this side.
Benjamin Pavard: 6
Whilst not as threatening as Hernandez down the left, Pavard still put in a pretty solid performance. With Coman running the show ahead of him, there was little opportunity for him to get involved going forward. A quiet night for him but with so little competition for his spot, that’s arguably all that was needed from him, with others shining.
Blaise Matuidi: 6
Very much one of the old guard in this team now, Matuidi successfully put in a very typical performance. He was dependable in midfield and whilst he might not have the energy resources of old, still provides some much-needed experience and a calm head within the team. Played a couple of clever passes early on but was happy to sit back and let the youngsters enjoy themselves.
Corentin Tolisso: 6.5
Very much the long-term successor to Matuidi, especially with regards providing the energy and calmness in midfield. With Paul Pogba out injured, Tolisso marked his return to the side for the first time since September last year with a solid performance. With the players that Deschamps has at his disposal in attack, the serenity brought on by Tolisso will be depended on more and more going forward. Still needs to find his groove after such a long time out injured last season, but that will come.
Thomas Lemar: 6
Possibly the only outfield player who might feel that they did not shine as much as they would have liked. With the likes of Kylian Mbappé missing, these games are a chance for players such as Lemar to show what they can offer. On this occasion, he might be a little frustrated. He did play his part in some of the excellent interplay going forward, but he may have wanted to show that a little bit more of 90 minutes. Deschamps pointed to his difficult first season in Madrid in the pre-match press conference, but as ever was also keen to point out that Lemar has rarely disappointed for him. With such a plethora of talent in attack, Lemar must ensure he maintains that record for Les Bleus.
Antoine Griezmann: 8.5
Seemed to do everything but score. Always seems to put in excellent showings for France and this game was no exception. He set one goal up, played a key part in another and was involved in pretty much every positive thing about France going forward. Some of his interplay with the likes of Lemar, Coman and Olivier Giroud was fantastic, his vision to pick the pass few others see was also on display throughout the game. Only a couple of good saves and his own missed opportunity, as he smashed a penalty against the crossbar, prevented him from getting on the scoresheet. Continues to feel that for the moment, he is very much the key player in the side.
Kingsley Coman: 9
For a player who has been so unlucky with injuries, it was great to see just what a threat a fit Coman can be as he found the net twice. From the get-go, he caused Albania all sorts of problems down the right with his clever movement and blistering pace. His first goal was all about that speed and cool finish whilst his second was thanks to a lovely first touch and pirouette to create the space and tuck it away. He also demonstrated some of the adaptability which will only help his cause of remaining in the side as he drifted more central and even out to the left during the second half. If he can continue to remain injury free, then he will only add to the selection headaches that Deschamps suffers from in this area of the pitch, but this was a superb reminder that on his day, Coman is a joy to watch.
Olivier Giroud: 7.5
Another workman-like performance from Giroud who continues to feel underappreciated by many, outside of the national team set up. He scored one and had a hand in another two thanks to his movement and passing. His goal moved him on to 36 for his country, just five behind Michel Platini who holds second place in the all time scoring records for France. His partnership with Griezmann again worked wonders as his touch and movement created the space and opportunities for others. During the week, he partially hinted that the European Championships might bring about the end of his career at international level. Sadly it might only be once that happens that the doubters finally acknowledge his contribution.
Jonathan Ikoné for Kingsley Coman: N/A – however worth noting that the Lille man did net a goal on his debut following a good run and one-two with Fekir. Can be proud of his brief cameo as almost scored prior to his eventual goal with a run at the Albanian defence, before only a last ditch challenge prevented him from getting a shot away.
Lucas Digne for Lucas Hernandez: N/A – was brought on late in the game, looked a little nervy and slightly sloppy in possession.
Nabil Fékir for Thomas Lemar: N/A – an 85th minute substitute but managed to get an assist for Ikoné’s goal.