While French football has invaded the miscellaneous events section in recent days, the Blues had the good idea to win a football match this Thursday in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis) against Austria (2-0) during the 5e Nations League day. Yes, UEFA's latest creation still smells a little new, but the winner still manages to find charm in it. This was the case last October with a team from France, triumphant in Turin, but already out of the race to succeed itself since its bad series in June (two draws, two defeats).
“There is nothing better than victory”, released a concise and somewhat relieved Didier Deschamps. Not yet enough to hoist the flags at the windows or to honk on the Champs-Elysée. In the coach's mind, this fall session against Austria and then Denmark on Sunday in Copenhagen was to be a final dress rehearsal before flying to Qatar and the World Cup in two months.
But any director will tell you, it is not easy to rehearse a play with twelve absent actors, including several headliners (Karim Benzema, Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kanté, Presnel Kimpembe or even the Hernandez brothers). Fortunately, Kylian Mbappé had no word from the doctor to be excused. When he is not busy redefining the legal contours of image rights in selection and sorting among the partners of the French Football Federation those who are compatible or not with his values and his image, the Parisian also knows how to change the course of a game.
In his own way and in a flash, à la 56e minute. A pass from Olivier Giroud, an acceleration between four Austrians transformed into stakes, as in their beloved Schladming slalom, and an unstoppable strike (1-0) to finish the job. Joy and relief. Before this flash, the Blues looked like a team that was not quite one. Logical, when half of your holders are lacking and you have to hold hands with two newcomers, the Monegasques Benoît Badiashile and Youssouf Fofana, rather comfortable elsewhere.
“Almost impossible to defend” against Mbappé
Again dressed in 3-5-2 by their coach, the French alternated between good intentions, inaccuracies and wasted opportunity against the Austrians not decided to stick their noses out of their half of the field too much. The world champions also continue to abuse their injury package. To the twelve initials before the match are added in the first half those of defender Jules Koundé (hamstrings) and goalkeeper Mike Maignan (calf), yet technically unemployed.
On resumption, the Austrians were kind enough to finally discover each other with a thread and to offer spaces to a French team, more at ease on a four-lane highway. After all, we don't make up. Especially with an asset like Kylian Mbappé up his sleeve. We must listen to and translate from German the words of Ralf Rangnick. " If Mbappé had played with us tonight, the game might not have been the same. But unfortunately, we don't have Kylian Mbappé. »
The Austrian coach not only pushes an open door into the auditorium of the Stade de France, he translates the impotence and concern of the opponents (“ on a good day, it's almost impossible to defend against him," even confesses the Austrian captain David Alaba) against the threat posed by the Paris-Saint-Germain striker.
If we associate him with a probable future Ballon d'Or (Karim Benzema), we have a few arguments to debate and even counter the decliners of the moment, convinced of a rapid and inevitable fall of the blue house in Qatar. A victory does not erase everything, but it helps to see the glass half full again.
In fact, it puts an end to a series of four games without a win, slightly removes the specter of a possible relegation to the League B of Nations (to be confirmed against Denmark on Sunday) which is basically only a sporting adventure in the current context (Pogba affair, ministerial audit at the federation). Didier Deschamps admitted it last week, he has already "known more peaceful climate".
Giroud two goals from Henry's record
This Thursday, the coach only talked about football, which he " favorite ". Except perhaps when it comes to mentioning the case of Olivier Giroud. During the week, the 35-year-old striker swore in an interview with M6 to be ready to polish the bench in Qatari stadiums, ventilated and happy to serve France as a simple substitute. But when he starts, still in the absence of Benzema now, the AC Milan player scores. At the Giroud. A resumption of the head all in power and determination on a center of Antoine Griezmann (65e) to come within two units of Thierry Henry's France team goal record (49).
What relaunch the debate on its presence in the list for the World Cup. On this subject, the only decision maker decided not to say too much. “He has to keep performing. But don't interpret what I saywarns Deschamps. Did I say he would be there or not? No. But he does everything to be there. » And if this is the case, Giroud will have the opportunity to discuss with Kylian Mbappé – with whom he displayed a great bond in the game but also in the celebration of their goal this Thursday – the question of the convention governing the right in the collective image of the Blues.
As very often, the Bondynois did not parade to explain himself to journalists on this subject. “It's not me, it's the whole team who wanted that. Me, I don't mind putting myself in the spotlight, even if it means being criticized if it's beneficial for my teammates.", he assured. A controlled and studied exit in relation to the realpolitik of the locker room. On Wednesday, Mbappé received strong support, that of Raphaël Varane. It's a “simple, logical and legitimate request”, supported him in a press conference the vice-captain. At 23, Kylian Mbappé goes as fast on the field as to take on responsibilities outside, both at PSG and in the France team. Dizzy.