From our Special Envoy in Doha,
The history of World Cup adventures is made up of founding moments, whether big or small, obvious at first glance or imperceptible to the naked eye. They don’t necessarily have to be spectacular or even joyful, nor do they necessarily have to take place in a knockout match. Basically, there are not only “half-volleys Pavaaaaaard” to cement a group and launch a dynamic. Take for example the short span of time between Australia’s opener, Lucas Hernandez’s serious injury and Adrien Rabiot’s equalizer with a header eighteen minutes later. Well, maybe that’s where part of the World Cup was played.
Struck once again by fate after having already lost on the road Presnel Kimpembe, Christopher Nkunku and Karim Benzema, the Blues could have sunk mentally seeing the twisted faces of their friends. How could we blame them? Obviously the message was clear, this World Cup did not want them. “It’s starting to really do a lot,” Lloris breathed in the mixed zone after the match. But despite that, we have to keep moving forward and that should unite us even more. “Instead of surrendering in the face of cascading misfortunes, the players have indeed chosen to draw from it the sources of their revolt. “I saw Lucas’ face when he came out and that motivated me even more to react,” confided Dayot Upamecano, his teammate in central defense at Bayern Munich, author of a first World Cup match in very nice bill.
It’s the swing!
Accompanied on the bench, arm in arm, by the medical staff of the Blues, Lucas Hernandez then gives way to his little brother, Theo. And the Blues activate revolution mode, suddenly escorted by an old companion named luck, who returns just when she seemed to have left the coach’s litter for good. A rough heel from the Milan side not quite in his match, followed by an Australian strike brushing against Lloris’ skylight and the story of the Blues could definitely have changed for good.
The rest we know. Théo Hernandez who finds Rabiot’s header with a beautifully brushed cross for the equalizer, then this same Rabiot transforming into a Paul Pogba of the big nights to snatch a ball very high in the Australian feet before leaning on Mbappé and serve Giroud back. The explosion of the bench at that time says a lot about the shift that has just taken place. Pushed to the very edge of the precipice, the Blues of 2022 have just shown the world that the spirit of 2018 may not have been quite dead. At the end of the match, Hugo Lloris praised the ability of his players not to have panicked at a time when everything was pushing them.
It’s true that we could have rushed, we could not have taken the time to build the actions, but I found that we had shown a lot of serenity and that’s a good thing because we will need it for the rest, warned the goalkeeper. I liked the reaction capacity of this team. We know that in a competition like this, each time we are going to be confronted with difficulties, it will be time to raise the level to take the upper hand together.
For Benjamin Pavard, grossly (not to say shamefully) guilty on Goodwin’s opener, the players were “sure of [leurs] qualities “. This is also the feeling we had from the stands of the Al-Janoub stadium. At 2-1, nothing more could happen to them. Like this Australian post a few seconds before half-time, a sign that Deschamps’ favorite animal had finally returned to his camp.
A team that discovers itself on the job
“We played our game, we didn’t ask ourselves any questions”, continues the French right side. This is perhaps, basically, the real virtue of this World Cup without preparation, launched the day after the national championships without any breathing space in the meantime. Impossible and forbidden to cogitate. This may also be why teams like Argentina, whose style of play has been clearly established for months and who have not lost a match in their last 36 games, have fallen, while the the French team, unexciting on paper for a while and tactically turned upside down at the last minute, has successfully entered the game. In the heart of the matter without tactical preparation strictly speaking, the players had to be immediately operational.
This was the case, for example, of this central Konaté-Upamecano hinge without experience at the highest international level, who we found particularly attractive, especially in his ability to bring out the ball and play long properly. In the middle, if we expected more from Tchouaméni, we also know how to be understanding for his first match in the World Cup, all the more with the weight of the responsibility which is his to make forget the unforgettable N’Golo Kante. And since Rabiot seems to have decided to take the lead, thus surfing on his superb form of the moment at Juve, we can wait until Denmark on Saturday to see the great Aurélien.
When, in the end, you have arrows like Mbappé in front of you (a goal and a assist Tuesday evening) and Dembélé (a dice pass), in addition to an unsinkable “target man” at the forefront, we say to ourselves that there is enough to feed two, three ambitions in this World Cup finally. “Even if the absentees are very important, we have quality, we have potential, we must not underestimate ourselves”, also warned the Duke of Turin before leaving the stadium on Tuesday. I promise, we won’t risk this little game.