At the end of an internship so far nourished by no success in three games, the France team has the opportunity to redo the icing on Monday evening, in Saint-Denis, against Croatia, and to avoid a four in a row that would stain. If the first objective is not to return in September with a fight to remain in League A of the League of Nations to unravel, a second is in all the blue heads: that all that ends and that the holidays come after an interminable season .
Finally, there they are on the horizon. After whole months spent burning, sweating profusely, pulling on the various strings of their bodies and heating up their suggestion box, the Blues will be authorized, Monday evening, to go on vacation and blow up the valve. Some will return to chain cocktails on a beach in Mykonos, others will land in shorts on a boat in Saint-Tropez, where Jean-Roch, Nagui, Fabrice Santoro and Michel Cymes are certainly waiting for Didier Deschamps firmly. There remains one last question to settle: what memories do these guys have, who have just played four matches in eleven days – a first in the history of the France team – at the end of a season already dripping with matches for the majority of them, will they take in their suitcases? Perhaps they will think again, first, of this survey published at the end of May by FIFPROwho worried about the delirious number of matches played by international footballers. “When you play every three days, the incidence of injuries is multiplied by sixdetailed Grégory Dupont, the former physical trainer of the France team, on the day of the presentation of the results. When a player feels tired the day before the match, the risk of injury is multiplied by thirty. There is a clear link between mental fatigue and injury. The day after a match, when we analyze the level of strength of a player who plays every three days, for example at the level of the hamstrings, we note a decrease of 15 to 30% depending on the case. And when a player is still -10% the day before the match, the risk is multiplied by 90. They will then certainly put away somewhere some images of this strange gathering, whose accounting pace is quite gloomy for the moment – three consecutive games without success (a first outside the tournament period since 2013), two points snatched out of nine possible, a last group place in the League of Nations, a competition which can be both a good pastime when everything is going well and a hell of a ball in the calendar when things are going badly – and whose progress has so far raised more questions than answers.
” I have not changed my mind ”
In March, Didier Deschamps assured that the 3-4-1-2 worked since September was the system which should allow his group to “to cause more problems for the adversary” . When he returned to his troops at the end of May, the coach also clearly showed his desire to take advantage of future meetings to “work on positioning and offensive animation” within this scheme. Faced with the many physical glitches that came to slip into the flutes of his orchestra, he was finally able to do so only 78 minutes against Denmark (1-2) – after the exit of Antoine Griezmann and the entry of Adrien Rabiot, the Blues went to 3-5-2 – before wrapping his players in a 4-4-2 which he always considered to be the system “the most rational way to make the best use of the width and to control the intervals between the players” . Should we therefore draw major conclusions on the evolution of Deschamps’ game project? Not at all, replied Sunday the coach, who has never been able to lay down his ideal eleven: “I didn’t change my mind, I just took different options. We are not fixed in a single system, we may even have to change it during the match. It’s not because we played the last two games with four that the system with three defenders is thrown away. We will see in competition if a system emerges at a given moment or not, but I choose each time with the idea of putting the eleven incumbents in the best possible position. It’s even rather interesting: we become less predictable for our opponents. »
While waiting to think about November, the Blues, who will then only have two games to play at the end of September before landing on the dunes, have one last battle to fight on Monday evening, in Saint-Denis, against a Croatia they find themselves only a week after a first game (1-1) from where Zlatko Dalić’s men could have started on the gong with three points in their pockets without a decisive Maignan. In Split, Didier Deschamps had changed ten players from the eleven lined up against Denmark a few days earlier and everyone had left the evening with the feeling of not having learned much, even if the France team had been rather coherent collectively and held until the 83e minute a success that would not have been a robbery. Also note: in Croatia, Christopher Nkunku had scored points that could be valuable in the future, especially since the Leipzig striker confirmed behind when he entered Austria and had already been at his comfortable against Denmark.
The hanging tongues
And this time, what can we expect? Good question when you know that all the players in the group, like the players of all the groups in the world, stick their tongues out severely. Friday evening, in Vienna, Benjamin Pavard clearly assumed it: “Yes, it is certain that there is fatigue. We are not machines, we play a lot of games all season. Afterwards, it’s the same for everyone, so you don’t have to take refuge behind that. » On Sunday, three of them (Saliba, Diaby, T. Hernández) didn’t even go out to roll in the grass and three others (Benzema, Konaté and Kamara) trained separately. While Presnel Kimpembe came to talk about a match “very, very important” and a team from France which “shouldn’t be in this position” Didier Deschamps also assumed that he wanted “gather all the forces” of his gang to heal the end of the internship by making a positive result against Croatia. Thus, even if he is not 100%, Kylian Mbappé should find a starting place, just like Presnel Kimpembe. The coach also took advantage of the pre-match to justify the lack of tenure of Jonathan Clauss, whose unisystem profile could condemn him in the future.
Monday evening, the piston of RC Lens could nevertheless pick up crumbs, while Mike Maignan will again be sent into the woods in place of Hugo Lloris, without any consequences to read for the future (“ Make your debates where you want but do not put competition where there is none. I’ll say it again: so much the better that we have two very good goalkeepers, I’m not going to complain about it, but from the moment Hugo maintains his level of performance, at club and national level…”). If everything lines up like this, the 3-4-1-2 could fall back on the scoresheet, unless the 4-4-2 is resting on the table with a Guendouzi-Rabiot duo at its heart. “It’s not a new squad review, but I’m adapting concedes Deschamps. I make sure not to take risks with those who have little worries. On this gathering, there was fatigue, perhaps also a bit of decompression after certain successes, glitches, players who left the group (Varane, L. Hernández, Kanté)…My colleagues also had situations to manage. I’m not going to complain, although we coaches should all be complaining. »Come on, more than 90 minutes before drawing the curtain on a month of June without much sun.
By Maxime Brigand