France ‘outclassed’ and left with questions after Germany defeat

As Euro 2024 draws closer, Didier Deschamps was left with more questions than answers after France’s 2-0 defeat at the hands of Germany on Saturday. 

Les Bleus have just one more game before this summer’s Euros, set to be held in Germany. In what is France’s final meeting before that competition, Deschamps would have hoped to have been provided with a sense of clarity. That was not the case, with Aurélien Tchouaméni stating that France were “outclassed in every department” against Germany. 

Right back concerns – Is Malo Gusto an option?

One question to which Deschamps has sought an answer, albeit in vain in recent years, is the issue at right-back. The manager has been vocal in his displeasure at a perceived lack of options. In recent times, he has resorted to playing centre-backs at right-back, with Benjamin Pavard and Axel Disasi featuring in the position recently. More attacking options such as Jonathan Clauss, and more recently Malo Gusto, have also been trialled but it is becoming increasingly clear that Deschamps favours a more conservative approach. 

It was Jules Koundé who started against Germany, and once again, he failed to take his chance, showing a lack of understanding of the role and an incapability to provide attacking thrust. Going into the Euros, the right-back position remains up for grabs, but no candidate is grasping that opportunity. Gusto’s impressive performances at Chelsea have led to calls for him to be given a more starring role, but with just months until the Euros, will Deschamps want to adjust the balance of his side to accommodate him? It seems unlikely.

Olivier Giroud undisplaceable

There is also a question mark around the striker position. It looks likely that Olivier Giroud will start for Les Bleus in Germany, especially after Marcus Thuram’s outing at the Groupama Stadium. The Inter Milan striker, who prior to the match said that he felt he was in “the best period of [his] career”, put in an anonymous performance. He had just 21 touches, the fewest of any player that started for either side. 

That will be a cause for concern for Deschamps, especially given Randal Kolo Muani’s fall down the pecking order at Paris Saint-Germain. Deschamps joked that he would like Luís Enrique to afford the former Eintracht Frankfurt forward more game time amidst a difficult debut season at the Parc des Princes. That extra game time does not look forthcoming and so Kolo Muani’s preparation for the Euros is sub-optimal. 

It perhaps isn’t the biggest problem in the short-term, especially given the faith that Deschamps has shown Giroud over the years, but the AC Milan forward has alluded to a retirement from international football post-Euros. Either Thuram or Kolo Muani look like the natural successors, but neither is convincing when given the chance. France’s hopes therefore remain pinned on a 37-year-old forward, for now. 

Antoine Griezmann’s absence glaring

One absentee from the lacklustre defeat to Germany was Antoine Griezmann. Prior to the match, the Atletico Madrid forward had played a part in France’s last 84 games in an incredible run that stretched back to 2017. The performance against Germany showed that Griezmann, now playing in a slightly more withdrawn midfield role at international level, remains irreplaceable. 

Starting in his place, Warren Zaïre-Emery struggled with the physicality and intensity of the match and failed to wield his usual influence on the game. In what was only his second game for Les Bleus, he will have better days in what promises to be a glistening international career, but in the meantime, there is a question of creativity in this midfield in Griezmann’s absence. 

All being well, Deschamps will be able to call upon vice-captain Griezmann in the summer, but as the Euros draw closer, this international break is providing more questions than answers so far.

GFFN | Luke Entwistle

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