When two great teams live up to their talent, football can provide a dazzling spectacle. France and Spain played at a very high level in the final of the League of Nations, this Sunday, October 10 in Milan. And a meeting without major stake in a competition with blunt relief made a duel with daggers drawn, ended with a stunning scenario and a magnificent victory of the Blues (2-1).
→ ANALYSIS. Football: French and Belgians in place for the 2018 revenge
After a first half full of tension and tactical movements leaving little room for the expression of the artists, each engaged in efficient but grueling pressing, everything was packed after the hour of play. crazy, in just two minutes, started with a lightning attack from the Blues ended with a strike from Theo Hernandez which crashed into the Spanish crossbar. The best opportunity for the Blues, but the opposite goes very quickly to give an additional hand to the Spaniards. Who, in the same minute, open the scoring.
The Blues can be knocked out, but no. It is quite the opposite which occurs, and immediately the men of Didier Deschamps retort with their rebel in chief: Karim Benzema. With a curled shot, the attacker finds the Spanish skylight, and as in the semi-final against Belgium (3-2), sounds the tricolor revolt. The rest is a feast of Kylian Mbappé passing his legs, the Spaniards who do not abdicate, two decisive stops by Hugo Lloris, and the Blues who take the trophy for the second edition of the event.
They thus end a very chaotic year. After the astonishing return of the ban Karim Benzema in the spring, an extremely disappointing Euro with the Blues often well below their potential and their claimed ambition, the start of the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign revealing at the return of the Blues as emptied of all substance, Didier Deschamps’ men attacked this week dedicated to the last four of the League of Nations in an atmosphere where absolute confidence was not hovering.
Apparently lost players, a coach weighing much less than in the past, perhaps seeming at the end of the line: after 45 catastrophic minutes of the first duel of this Nations League against Belgium, with a scathing 0-2 in the table of ‘display, all the commentators were already sharpening their pens to tell the doldrums in which the France team was bathed. And the shadow of Zinédine Zidane already hovering above the Blues, because it needed at least that, a providential man, to raise the bar tomorrow.
An attack finally effective
Except that words were exchanged in the locker room between these Blues who were only a shadow of themselves. Didier Deschamps, Paul Pogba, Hugo Lloris, in turn, spoke hard, but fair. They whipped up common pride, and the same suddenly found themselves so different to offer a staggering turnaround.
The final against Spain did not obey the same scenario, but it was once again the Blues in reaction who provided the show. As if this team had to be stung before asserting its character. Victory undoubtedly does not solve everything and does not offer total guarantees for the continuation of the 2022 adventure. The offensive capacities of the famous Mbappé-Benzema-Griezmann trio are finally expressed, even if Antoine Griezmann still appears a tone below these two teammates.
For the first time since the epic on the roof of the world in Russia in 2018, something really emerges from this French team. Something that looks like a newfound confidence, a truly shared involvement. The angry fist, then the big smile of Didier Deschamps at the end of the meeting speak well of the relief of the man. He too must be fully revitalized, before attacking what should be his last year in office until the World Cup in Qatar. Strongly the continuation.