Failing to manage to sell him submarines, France knows how to beat Australia at the opening of a football World Cup. From Kazan to Al-Wakrah, there is almost a four and a half year gap, 5,000 kilometers in distance and two margin goals. But also another story to write for the rest of the tournament. In Russia, the Blues had started the competition by a few erasures (2-1) before a perfect ending. In the Al-Janoub stadium, whose architecture reminds us that Qatar found pearls before selling gas, the world champions scored the goals (4-1), this Tuesday, November 22. The victory is wide, beautiful in places, but does not remove all doubts.
The adversary does not change, neither do his limits. But on a day when the small team concept was torpedoed by Saudi Arabia v Argentina (2-1)the performance of Didier Deschamps’ men is appreciated for what it is: “A good quality copy overall”. The coach has commented little on the good news lately – between a victory in six games and a cascade of injuries – not to add a “could do better”.
Otherwise, it’s well known: players don’t read the press, don’t listen to the radio and don’t watch TV. However, the Blues always guess the criticisms and the doubts. A victory against them ” Socceroos » is not yet enough to prove definitively wrong the pessimists, the skeptics and all those who see the French quite early in a Doha-Paris. But Adrien Rabiot had a bit of a desire to puff out his chest and already make an appointment: “We have potential. We must not be underestimated”warned the author of the equalizing goal (27e).
When Mbappé scores with a header
However, the affair started badly and even revived the specter of the defending champion eliminated in the first round, this concept inaugurated by the French in 2002 and since taken over by Italy, Spain and Germany. At the 9e minute, Benjamin Pavard is not at second post to monitor Craig Goodwin, just in time to cool the Blues. On this action, Lucas Hernandez leaves his right knee (cruciate ligaments affected and World Cup finished) and places it in his brother Theo, very convincing thereafter.
For the 3,300 French supporters, the atmosphere was then as fresh as an air-conditioned stadium in the desert and even the Marseillaise do not take. Fortunately, a header from Rabiot and an assist from the Turinese five minutes later for Olivier Giroud (32e) turn the world champions right side up.
By dint of chronicling the recent misfortunes of this team, we end up forgetting its qualities. The Australian coach much less. “The French were physically stronger and faster than us. It’s also difficult to stop a player as fast as Mbappé.said Graham Arnold.
France ended up getting used to Kylian Mbappé, his brilliance, his unpredictability, the permanent doubt he instils in his opponents. The Parisian tries, provokes, always strikes at the risk of sometimes doing too much. But Didier Deschamps is not going to blame him for this zeal and feels his striker left on the bases of the 2018 edition, the scene of his explosion in the eyes of the world. “I’ve been talking to him for a while, I knew he was going to be ready because it’s his competition. If he adds headers, so much the better.” savors the coach about the third goal of his team (68e).
Elected man of the match, the Bondy prodigy shares the honors of the evening with Olivier Giroud. When one is at 23 the highest paid footballer on the planet, the other was at the same age a secret best known to regulars at the Stade de la Vallée du Cher and Tours FC in Ligue 2. But thirteen years later , Giroud is the equal of Thierry Henry. At least by the numbers. With his double, he becomes the co-top scorer in the history of the Blues with 51 goals. History may remember that he equaled this record (with a perfect header) on an offering from the one who risks beating him very quickly: Kylian Mbappé.
“Titi, watch out, I’m coming! »
In France, the Giroud style has not always been unanimous. There is the player profile. Scorer too exclusive in the eyes of some, too big and strong in the head to be a correct technician. Cliche. But the clichés sometimes stick to the crampons and the Grenoblois also composed (and suffered) from the permanent and often inappropriate comparison with Karim Benzema, even more so when the latter was on the doorstep of the selection and that some held it against Giroud.
This time, the Ballon d’Or is absent due to injury and not because of a sanction-like choice by Didier Deschamps. Nobody will think of reproaching Olivier Giroud for occupying his place without deserving it. “Olivier is exceptional and above all he is a role model, he has never given up, and finding himself at the height of Thierry Henry is just fantastic for him”, greets his captain and great friend, Hugo Lloris.
The AC Milan striker savors his first two World Cup goals. World champion without scoring, it’s a French tradition since Stéphane Guivarc’h in 1998 for a centre-forward, so for the superstitious, Giroud’s double would be almost bad news. The interested party, he said all his pride to have caught up with Thierry Henry. “It’s a goal that I kept in the back of my mind but it doesn’t inhibit me in the field. I mainly think about what I have to do, my personal case comes after. When I receive good balls in the area, I try to make them happen when I know how to do it and tonight I had the opportunity. A message for Henry? “Titi”, watch out, I’m coming! (laughs). I don’t intend to stop there. »
All this good humor, this race for the record and the new complicity displayed between Mbappé and Giroud do not make us forget that France dominated the weakest team in this group D. by a valiant Tunisia (0-0), Denmark comes forward as the first real level control for the Blues (Saturday at 5 p.m. at the 974 stadium in Doha), beaten twice this year by Christian Eriksen’s teammates in the League of Nations.
For the moment, we do not know if it is possible to be the first selection since Brazil, sixty years earlier, to retain their title with such a young hinge (Ibrahima Konaté and Dayot Upamecano to be credited with a good match) , an Antoine Griezmann almost midfielder in this 4-3-3, a Benjamin Pavard still living on credit in his summer of 2018 and half of the team on the flank due to injuries. Father prudence, Hugo Lloris does not project himself so far. “In an opening game the most important thing is to take three points. » Not false. Instead, ask Argentines what they think.
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