After a disappointing 2-0 loss to Denmark on Sunday, France’s UEFA Nations League season came to an end. At Parken in Copenhagen, Kasper Dolberg and Andreas Skov Olsen scored goals in the first half to give Kasper Hjulmand’s team all three points.
Although Croatia defeated Austria 3-1 to clinch first place ahead of the Danes, it was not enough to prevent Les Bleus from finishing last in the group. Following a 2-0 home victory over Austria and this 2-0 defeat in Scandinavia, Didier Deschamps must now decide on his FIFA World Cup team to represent France in Qatar later this year.
So, after this most recent international break without a few key players, what will the French strategist have learned?
Knowledge is essential.
Instead of consistently choosing the most skilled players available, Deschamps’ France has always been based on the team’s cohesion. In an effort to avoid controversy, this has occasionally required discipline to keep certain undesirable influences away from the squad.
The claims of a recent effort at blackmailing Paul Pogba, the criticism of the French Football Federation, and Kylian Mbappe’s recent drive for image rights control have upset the balance, though. It seems like Deschamps needs to start over in order to get this French team back on track.
The two World Cup champions from 1998 and 2018, the former captain, Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann, were two of the most impressive players this international season. That experience will be more crucial than ever with the likes of captain Hugo Lloris, Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, and Pogba returning, despite the fact that there is a lot of young promise.
Deschamps remarked after the game, “I wouldn’t call it a disaster as we did have chances too. “But if essential components are lacking, the system doesn’t really matter. This French team was inexperienced at the highest level and was youthful. There is no need to be concerned, given most of the returning players are seasoned internationals.”
monopoly of Mbappe
The superstar of Paris Saint-Germain is a tremendously important figure for club and nation, and a conflict over the usage of the players’ images with Les Bleus highlighted that. Mbappe is now undoubtedly France’s best player, and it’s not necessarily because of his recent on-field performance, which goes against Deschamps’ prior meritocracy.
It’s possible that Mbappe needs to dedicate himself to the team more in order for them to triumph in Russia, much like the 2018 team did. If not, France runs the risk of losing in Qatar because Group D opponents Denmark have already proven they can be challenging.
Another alternative is that Deschamps should step down at this point so that someone else may manage the French talent of tomorrow. The most obvious candidate is Zinedine Zidane, and the growing necessity to use fresh talent may spell the end for Deschamps’ previously effective strategy.
Does he actually have what it takes to play with these burgeoning talents in upcoming European Championship and World Cup cycles? Given that the world champions have finally reached the point where change is necessary, this may be Deschamps’ final international competition.