France: Upamecano’s ticket for the World Cup

Little to his advantage since the beginning of his adventure with the Blues, Dayot Upamecano was able to seize the match against Australia to finally display all the quality of his foot and his defensive science. The Bayern defender is expected to be confirmed for the reunion with the Danes, where he could be lined up with Raphaël Varane.


For the second time in less than 24 hours, Dayot Upamecano, a rather difficult-to-cage rabbit, has been caught in the headlights of Qatar. He was first crossed on Tuesday evening in a bend in the mixed zone of the Al-Janoub stadium, in Al-Wakrah, less than an hour after the France team’s big victory over Australia (4-1 ), head down and shifting face, before opening up a little: “It’s true that I had a very, very good match today. Afterwards, I don’t want to rest on it. There is still work. » It was then thrown at a press conference on Wednesday, to more or less deliver the same message. His superb performance against Australia? “A match like any other. » RELAUNCH : “In all professions, we are criticized, but I try not to listen too much to criticism, to focus on my performance. On the other hand, I always want more, I always want to improve, correct my faults… I didn’t just have difficult moments in blue. I scored for one of my first caps and although I haven’t always performed well, I’m looking forward. I got it into my head that it wasn’t given to everyone to play in a World Cup, so I gave everything on the pitch throughout the game. Now, we must not rest on this match and switch to that of Denmark. »

Upamecano has never been too fond of having his nose above a microphone, but there are evenings when it is not easy to refuse them. An evening when you are one of the best players on the pitch while playing the first World Cup match of your career is one, and the Bayern defender can, if not breathe, at the less savor a bit, he who had a complex start with the France team. Summoned for the first time in September 2020 during a trip to Sweden, where he had not gone far from being excluded after barely two minutes of play for a brutal tackle, the native of Évreux, who had to work on his management of emotions, dragged a very heavy sign since: that of a central defender at risk, to whom Didier Deschamps gave his chance a few times, without ever really harvesting what he hoped to harvest. Only tenured with the Blues once in 2022, and this, during the drowning in Copenhagen, Upamecano still had his ticket for the World Cup. And, miracle: the first fruits arrived.

“My game is like that, risky, I know that. I try to play fast forward and I think I do it well. » Dayot Upamecano

Risk appetite

They grew following a series of glitches in the French ranks, but also because you have to believe that football always ends up being overtaken by a form of logic. Thus, following Presnel Kimpembe’s package, Dayot Upamecano was sent to a lawn in Doha on Tuesday evening alongside his old friend, Ibrahima Konaté. Seeing a profile like that of Upamecano, a line-breaking specialist, lined up for a match configuration like the one expected against Australia was desired to break through the block of Socceroos, Deschamps granted him, and today it is difficult to be disappointed. For the first time since living in blue, the Munich resident seemed very comfortable and was able to bring out his entire palette. Right-handed positioned on the left, he quickly displayed the quality of his footing while taking measured risks. “My game is like that, risky, I know that. I try to play fast forward and I think I’m doing it well.” he smiled shyly on Wednesday, aware of having completed the first evening of the French team in this World Cup with the greatest number of broken lines in the pockets, and this, in a context where, in the absence of Paul Pogba, the Blues desperately needed a construction player who could regularly touch the offensive line.

Positioned to the left of a three-man defense during the phases with the ball after the entry of Theo Hernandez, Upamecano found himself in a vital area to advance the French game and was able to make the best use of this platform.

We first saw him being several times at the source of this circuit allowing Kylian Mbappé to send Theo Hernandez to devour his left lane …

… and we found him in the second half, still with Mbappé, this time to let the PSG striker combine with Olivier Giroud.

Then, we saw him take out all his favorite weapons: the hidden pass, used here to find Griezmann …

… the Ramos or Van Dijk diagonal to find the isolated winger on the opposite side – here Dembélé -, even if it will be too strong…

… the mid-length lobed pass playing with the attackers’ inside stalls to find Theo Hernandez launched…

… the mid-length one sent low to the ground to find Mbappé. This pass is only possible because Upamecano is a right-hander positioned on the left, hence the interest…

… and percussion for dribbling…

… to open up an exchange space behind the opposing defence.

Capable of a thousand things with the ball at his feet, the former Valenciennes player, who was also royal in the air and in duels (eight balls recovered, three intercepted), scored valuable points and should start again in the eleven against Denmark alongside Raphaël Varane, the context of the match being more conducive to a return of the vice-captain of the Blues whose presence in the surface defense could prove invaluable. Something has turned in recent days in the fate of Upamecano, who came to Qatar to prove to himself that he could repeat his Bayern performances with the Blues. In October, his trainer in Germany, Julian Nagelsmann, even urged Deschamps to offer him another chance: “I have known Upa for a long time. I know its potential. In our last year at Leipzig and last season, he never had it easy. He was under some pressure from one or two too many mistakes, but this year his development has been world class and no one is as consistent as he is right now. » The France team, which was waiting for its hatching and where he found his friend Ousmane Dembélé, against whom he chained the matches in primary school, only asks for that.

By Maxime Brigand, in Doha

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