In football tournaments, this match would be called a consoling one. In other words, a meeting for butter organized so that everyone goes home happy with a lot. This semi-final of the League of Nations between France and Belgium, Thursday, October 7, looks like a stopgap for two major nations of European football, disappointed by their journey during the last Euro. France, the reigning world champion, was taken out of this tournament in the round of 16 by Switzerland. Belgium, third in the 2018 Russian World Cup, only made one more lap, eliminated in the quarter by the future Italian winner.
→ READ. Euro 2021: the Blues fall from the top
Created in 2018 to replace the tunnels of friendly matches without sporting stakes or big interest for televisions and sponsors, this second edition of the League of Nations is the perfect opportunity for Didier Deschamps’ men to redeem themselves. “We must not minimize this competition (…). This will not erase what happened, the Euro is behind us (…) there is a title at stake, we have a semi-final to play against one of the best teams in the world ”, he explained Monday 4 at a press conference.
Worrying performances after the Euro
Since this disastrous last quarter of an hour of the Euro against Switzerland, when the Blues were caught in the score before losing on penalties in overtime, the group had lost ground. The worrying draws against Bosnia and Ukraine in early September in qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup had hit the nail on the head. Fortunately, the Benzema-Griezmann festival, a few days later against Finland (2-0), had put things in place and incidentally, almost qualified the Blues for Qatar. While bringing to light the puzzle of the attack.
Two, without Kylian Mbappé (injured), the Blues had found their way to the goal thanks to an Antoine Griezmann flourished in a role of leader. What will happen to three with Mbappé, against Belgium, in the ineffective configuration of the Euro? If Benzema and Griezmann seem indisputable in the device of the boss of the Blues, he sent the young Parisian a clear message during the show Telefoot, Sunday October 3. “The altruistic and collective Mbappé against Manchester City is the one I want to see”, he asserted. In other words, that his star player finds the spirit that allowed Paris SG to overthrow the champion of England in the Champions League, everything will be fine. If he plays personal and gets annoyed with his teammates like lately in a club, beware …
→ CHRONICLE. Euro 2021, the lost illusions
Station also behind, because the offensive festival against Finland (2-0) should not forget that the French deficiencies during the Euro were initially defensive. Until the Finnish good fortune, the Blues had taken the bad habit for months to concede the first goal of each game. During this last match, the boss had innovated by composing a defense to three, instead of the usual quartet. Which had worked pretty well.
A rivalry that sometimes got out of hand
Crucial for the blue crew of Captain Lloris, this meeting is also important for the Red Devils, who have revenge to take. Number one in the ranking of nations by virtue of great consistency in recent years (France is fourth), the band of Eden Hazard dreamed big until their missed European quarter-final against Italy. And still has not digested the semi-final lost in Russia against France, which had left the Belgians a bitter taste. “We lose against a team that is not better than us”, lamented goalkeeper Thibault Courtois. “I would rather lose with this Belgium than win with this France”, had assured Eden Hazard.
These words had sharpened the traditional rivalry between the two neighbors. If the Belgians have regularly won in recent years in a friendly match, they have lost the major official matches (5-0 at the 1984 euro, and 4-2 in the small final for the 3e place at the 1986 World Cup). “The rivalry has always been there, but it is healthy and sporty, tempers Didier Deschamps, but there is everything that happened outside, in the comments, there must have been excesses on both sides, because we are in the interpretations of hot words which have certainly taken on too much importance. “