The France – Spain (1-2) cheat sheet: After boredom, disappointment

The France – Spain (1-2) cheat sheet: After boredom, disappointment
The France – Spain (1-2) cheat sheet: After boredom, disappointment

The Game: Big Start, Mini Rebellion

The game plan was clear: Spain had the ball, Les Bleus the transitions in this 4-3-3 with the arrows Dembélé, Kolo Muani and Mbappé up front – the sixth different team composition in six matches in this Euro. It didn’t take long to see the Tricolores finally score, for real, by themselves, after a beautiful collective move announcing a Spanish weakness at the back. But Didier Deschamps’ men never really knew how to take advantage despite an intense start to the match. It took La Roja five minutes to reverse the balance of power and confiscate the ball. In midfield, Spain’s superiority was undeniable. And up front, their individuals knew how to hurt when necessary. Despite rare incursions, the French team did not experience its quarter of an hour of rebellion. After qualifying in boredom, elimination in spite.

The players: Yamal’s lightning, Dembélé’s clumsiness

He is only 16 years old but is already a giant. Author of the equalizing goal on a world-class move, Yamine Lamal put La Roja back on track at a time when it seemed to be sinking. Dani Olmo, already a scorer in the last 16 and quarter-finals, continued his crazy streak while Fabian Ruiz once again delivered a stunning performance in midfield. Among the Blues, there were many disappointments. Clumsy and out of time, Ousmane Dembélé showed his worst side, at the worst time. Despite his inaugural decisive pass, Mbappé missed a lot and disrupted the tricolor animation while Aurélien Tchouaméni, like the entire midfield, experienced a complete shipwreck.

Kylian Mbappé – France

Credit: Getty Images

The image that will remain

In 10 or 20 years, perhaps this evening in Berlin will be remembered as the birth certificate of Yamine Lamal at the highest level. Last year, he had already cleaned the top corner of the French U17s with his left foot. This Tuesday, it was even stronger: while standing still, he made Adrien Rabiot dance before curling, without momentum, an exceptional strike that hit Maignan’s post and turned this semi-final on its head.

The stat: 28 years old

The series has come to an end. Since 1996 and an elimination against the Czech Republic, the Blues had adopted an excellent habit: each time they were in the semi-final of an international competition, they validated their ticket for the epilogue (1998, 2000, 2006, 2016, 2018, 2022). This Tuesday, they were far from the mark.

The statement: Didier Deschamps (on beIN Sports)

This is not a team that is cautious or defensive. This is a team that defended very well. We didn’t have all our offensive weapons either, we didn’t have our usual radiance, but we made sure to be competitive. We were again this evening, with of course limits..”

The question: What remains?

This Tuesday, Didier Deschamps will have to look for answers in all directions, the Spanish superiority was incontestable. This Roja no longer has the great names of the past, has abandoned by obligation the tiki-taka that made its greatness but it remains a great team. Where the individualities shine by the collective set-up, where the absence of some (Carvajal, Pedri) is less visible since the game plan, itself, is clear as spring water. The Blues, on this Euro, cannot say as much.

In Munich, the permanent miracle ended just as they had finally adjusted their sights. So solid at the back, so difficult to move in the middle, the vice-world champions were tossed around. When the collective struggles, you have to be able to count on your strong men. At this Euro, they are rare on the French side, especially up front. The Mbappé case will obviously be the most discussed, especially in view of the biting entrance of Bradley Barcola, but the French problem goes beyond his case. By believing too much in the raw talent of his men, Didier Deschamps found himself in a dead end in Germany. When that has flown away, what is left?

The immense disappointment of Kylian Mbappé’s Blues

Credit: Getty Images

A strange bitter taste, a feeling of disappointment in the face of the self-effacing nature of these Blues, as if fatalistic in the face of the fate reserved for them. A bitter taste, always, in the face of this Euro that was successful on paper but frankly bland on the pitch. Many changes, few goals, no thrills. The end ultimately symbolises this epic that looks more like an anecdote that no one will want to tell in the future.

This French team, whose incredible reservoir, nuclear offensive power and inner fire were praised, finally comes out with the feeling that it lacked options, that it struggled with attackers who were more out of shape than each other (Barcola aside) and a resignation that is unlike it. Yes, from Lusail to Munich, these Blues have changed. But not in the expected direction.



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