France’s head coach Didier Deschamps has confirmed, in an interview with Nice-Matin, that Les Bleus will keep to a 4-man defence in the foreseeable future. In 2021 as well as before the 2022 World Cup, Deschamps had often switched to a 3-man defence, usually with Raphaël Varane (29), Presnel Kimpembe (27) and Benjamin Pavard (26), whereas Jules Koundé (24), Jonathan Clauss (30), Lucas (27) and Théo Hernandez (25) played as wingbacks. This tactical experiment was implemented in order to best accomodate the partnership between the returning Karim Benzema (35) and Kylian Mbappé (24) with Antoine Griezmann (32) playing as a false nine.
The tactical experiment did not really stick, with France leaking too many goals. “The three-man defense is no longer a priority option”, Deschamps said. “The goal remains to be the most dangerous for the opponent and to keep an interesting defensive reliability.” During the 2022 World Cup, Deschamps reverted to a no-nonsense four-man defense, with Dayot Upamecano (24) proving one of the most consistent outfield player for France and Ibrahima Konaté (23) excelling when called upon. With Varane announcing his retirement, the former Leipzig centre-backs are expected to form the starting partnership at the back. “The 4-man system remains a good option. I don’t want to change for the sake of changing. During the World Cup, we had a better balance.”
However, Deschamps implied that a three-man system may work against several opponents, although France has, as of now, very few high-performing wingbacks. “Everything also depends on the opponent“, Deschamps assessed. “I don’t want to be dependent of a system. We need to have something that is the most rational in relation to the opponet, without losing the quality and the potential to be threatening”.
GFFN | Bastien Cheval