Five things France can do to boost Euro hopes after Brazil blow
France were, as usual of late, a frustrating mix of contradictions as they slipped to a 3-1 friendly defeat by Samba Boys Brazil.
The South American nation were decisive on the break, but their far from brilliant backline was clearly there for the taking, so Les Bleus must book their ideas up if they are to prove worthy hosts of Euro 2016 (which they are 4/1 to win with Coral).
An expectant nation awaits, and France cannot crumble again at the crucial moment. However, with only friendlies in the pipeline during Les Bleus’ build-up campaign, Didier Deschamps’ boys must start treating their dead rubbers like knock out duels.
Here’s how the Gallic guys can use their Samba Boys schooling to prepare for Euro 2016.
Make tough decisions up top
In injured Hugo Lloris’ absence Karim Benzema captained France for the first time, but bookended his almost anonymous stint as skipper by scuppering two glorious chances.
Though the Real Madrid frontman’s link-up play is undeniably sublime, Benzema is too inconsistent to be considered an automatic starter when off-form.
Deschamps has other deadly options at his disposal, in particular Ligue 1 top scorer Alexandre Lacazette, who did not get a sniff against the Samba Boys, despite striking 27 times for his club this campaign.
Benzema is best as a foil and, though lethal Lacazette is yet to net in five caps, should not be free from the pressure to perform for his spot up top. There will be little room for fluffed lines at France 2016.
Shore up centre half
Another Los Blancos buy, defender Raphael Varane typified his nation’s performance. After grabbing the opener, the set piece threat let Luis Gustavo glide past him to head home at the other end.
The 21-year-old talent needs guaranteed playing time to develop his immense potential and much will depend on whether he switches club sides this summer. Varane should still be a mainstay, however, though he needs an assured and experienced partner.
Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakhou is often too nervy in possession when pressed, so perhaps Deschamps should take a punt on recent omission Jeremy Mathieu, if he can continue to nail down a spot at Barcelona.
Keep the faith at full back
Patrice Evra may be 33, but should still have enough left in the tank to join Les Bleus for a final Euro adventure. France (10/1 to win World Cup 2018) should also have an eye on the future, however, and the lack of a young left back in Deschamps’ squad was notable.
Lucas Digne is having a tough time at PSG, but Deschamps could work wonders by showing some confidence in the youngster. Monaco man Layvin Kurzawa is another fledgling full back on the block, who should be given the chance to challenge, as Evra cannot continue to shoulder the burden alone.
Attacking midfield impetus
The home team did suffer in powerful Paul Pogba’s absence, but a tenacious midfield trio of Morgan Schneiderlin, Blaise Matuidi and Moussa Sissoko lacked craft and seemed a little like overkill. Just two, plus the invention of eventual debutant Nabil Fekir, could have given France more threat.
Sissoko’s energy and exuberance would perhaps see the Newcastle United star best utilised as an impact player, and he likely will be be once Pogba returns.
Antoine Griezmann also continues to toil in a blue shirt and should not be immune to Deschamps’ axe, despite gobbling up chances for Atletico Madrid. Ligue 1 leading assist maker Dimitri Payet and Fekir should also be given a fair crack of the whip to push for inclusion.