Great players make great teams. And when they have some difficulty, it becomes more difficult to win, even when you are the reigning world champion team. Mired in a litany of five consecutive games without a win, the Blues, easy winners of Finland (2-0), found a little of their superb, Tuesday, September 7 in Lyon. And they owe it in large part to two men: the darling of the Lyon public, Karim Benzema, and the darling of French supporters, Antoine Griezmann.
Two emblematic ovations rewarded them. The first when “Grizou” – author of his 40e and 41e goals in Blue like a certain Michel Platini – was replaced in stoppage time. And the second when Benzema – decisive passer born in Lyon and raised in Bron a few kilometers from the stadium – came to greet the crowd of his admirers after the meeting .
“I am very happy with my performance and that of the team. We wanted to show that we hadn’t lost anything, Griezman said. We have to keep this state of mind, this desire to give everything on the pitch and try to hurt in front. ”
Before this sixth match in Group D of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers and after two draws against Bosnia (1-1) and Ukraine (1-1), the question was legitimate: were the Blues still able to affix their imprint as world champions on opponents well within their reach? If the content is not yet perfect, this service provides a positive response. Attractive by streak, the France team managed to pack the match, especially in the second period.
The 57,057 Lyon spectators were quite ready to be enthusiastic and support a possible French renaissance. And the presence of the local child among the starting eleven was an additional motivation. His acclamation with “Karim, Karim, Karim” punctuated the pre-game, the game and the post-game. The Brondillant had a foretaste of the enthusiasm that a return to his roots would generate, he who left OL for Real Madrid twelve years ago.
In a group where the designated rival, Ukraine, is treading water – five draws in five games – this third victory in six games is enough for the Habs. There is no need to constantly force your talent when winning one in two matches already allows you to benefit from seven points ahead of your Finnish runner-up. Captain Hugo Lloris had warned the day before at a press conference and he was heard: “Everyone must feel responsible. The problem must be resolved tomorrow and not wait until November. ”
Criticized (rightly) before the meeting, the Blues see, without being too chickweed, the qualification for the Qatari meeting next year. Confused for three months, changing shirt as tactical system, coach Didier Deschamps can again oppose success to his detractors. It must be said that the double world champion often lacked other arguments lately. He can also congratulate himself on having found some offensive impetus. ” I was not satisfied with the first two matches, there it is more in line with what we are able to do. The service is of a good standard ”, he said.
“Two footballers who speak the same football”
However, despite obtaining five corners in ten minutes, the French footballers initially seemed to fall into their pitfalls: a false rhythm and a reluctance to press the opponent. But thanks to Benzema and his teammate Antoine Griezmann, the grayness of the French game has dispersed as if by magic.
The two Madrid players – the first from Real and the second from Atletico – do not communicate with their hands but with their feet. And certainly a lot with their heads, as their way of practicing this sport is so intelligent. Their complicity did not escape Didier Deschamps: “ Today she was excellent because they are two footballers who speak the same football. “
This technical alchemy seemed natural but was slow to prove itself after a Euro ended prematurely in the round of 16. It is now done, like the action of the opening of the score at the 25e minute of play: Karim Benzema is on the pass and “Grizou” at the conclusion of a subtle outside left foot.
Happy not to be led in the score as in their last five outings, the Blues were content with this minimum for a while. On returning from the locker room, ambition had returned. Benzema erased two opponents to shift Léo Dubois whose center allowed Griezmann to control and score a double with a cross shot (53e, 2-0).
Integrate Mbappé into the duo
When the criticisms are sharp, the great players always respond present. The demonstration of Griezmann – whose first love as a young supporter was Lyon in the stands of the old Stade de Gerland – is a new illustration. The Mâconnais confirmed his role of barometer of the good form of the Blues. Sparkling during the Russian World Cup, extinguished during the last Euro, he is more than ever the one who gives his color to the France team.
With the help of Karim Benzema, the man with the bun found the support of choice. “We may have found a system that suits us better, it’s the coach who will decide. We were strong, we won beautifully ”, noted the double scorer. It now remains to integrate into this duo the third thief, Kylian Mbappé, absent for injury against Finland. At the Euro, this extraordinary and long-awaited trio had failed. While without him, his two attacking friends have shown all their complicity, the Parisian will have to find his place alongside his elders.
This harmony will be one of Didier Deschamps’ key projects to hope to retain the world title on the shores of the Persian Gulf. ” If I could, I’d better have Kylian. It would have brought us so much if not more quality, wanted to reassure the coach. There is the complementarity of a duo, a trio, Kylian has his place in this trio. There are also some adjustments to be made, compared to the animation on the side. ”
The requirement does not stop at the offensive sector. Behind, the coach will also have choices to make. The two Hernandez brothers – Lucas and Theo – could help him a lot. The good performance of the cadet at the position of left side, starting against Finland, would shift his elder in the axis of defense, his preferred position. One year before the World Cup, the Blues still have work to do, but they have put the book back on the job.
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