PLAYER RATINGS | France 0-2 Germany: Florian Wirtz-inspired Germany ease past feeble France

International friendly, 23/03/24

In France’s penultimate match before this summer’s Euros, Didier Deschamps’ side succumbed to a 2-0 defeat against the hosts of the upcoming tournament, Germany. 

In what was Deschamps’ 150th game managing Les Bleus, he saw his side immediately fall behind. From the kick-off, Toni Kroos, making his return to international football, played a vertical ball into Florian Wirtz, who had a lot to do from 30 yards out, but rifled his shot into the top corner of Brice Samba’s goal, via the underside of the bar. 

Behind within seven seconds of kick-off, France struggled to gain a foothold in the game with a lack of intensity in and out of possession and a string of uncharacteristic technical errors seeing them cede possession and control to Germany. After 17 minutes, Les Bleus had just 32% possession.

However, there was a reaction. France began winning balls high and Deschamps’ side began to have joy down the wings with Lucas Hernandez and Ousmane Dembélé particularly influential. The latter was impressive in one-on-one situations, but as is often the case, lacked the final ball. 

It was Kylian Mbappé who had France’s best match of the half, latching onto a Hernandez ball and driving towards Marc -André Ter Stegen. However, he made the wrong choice and attempted to chip the Barcelona goalkeeper, a choice that was telegraphed by Ter Stegen who stayed on his feet and made a relatively comfortable save.  

As they were in the first half, France’s intensity was found wanting in the opening minutes of the second half, and Julian Nagelsmann’s men punished them. Wirtz’s brilliant ball over the top was met by Jamal Musiala, who rounded Samba, before cutting the ball back for Kai Havertz to double Germany’s advantage. 

Les Bleus never threatened in the second half. Fans at the Groupama Stadium in Lyon chanted for changes, but even when they did come, they were ineffective; players such as Olivier Giroud, Eduardo Camavinga, Jonathan Clauss and Théo Hernandez failed to reverse the trend. 

Instead, it was Germany who threatened to rub salt into France’s wounds. Max Mittelstädt tested Samba with a shot destined for the RC Lens shotstopper’s bottom corner. Two more chances came in quick succession for Germany, but Samba was equal to Thomas Müller and Deniz Undav’s efforts. Niclas Füllkrug also had a great chance to make it 3-0 from a corner, but ultimately those misses were inconsequential, with France slumping to a comprehensive defeat. Boos rang around the stadium at full-time; not the ideal preparation for this summer’s tournament in Germany.

France player ratings

Brice Samba – 6

Restricted the damage to just two goals with three crucial saves within the space of just two minutes towards the end. The Lens goalkeeper could perhaps have been less hasty in racing out of his goal on Germany’s second but an accomplished performance in the absence of Mike Maignan.

Lucas Hernandez – 5
Dayot Upamecano – 4
Benjamin Pavard – 5
Jules Koundé – 3

The right-back position remains a problem for France and Koundé doesn’t provide the solutions. The Barcelona defender lost the ball on 10 occasions and lacked any kind of presence going forward. A centre-back by trade and it showed once again on the night. 

Adrien Rabiot – 5
Aurélien Tchouaméni – 4
Warren Zaïre-Emery – 4

Not as euphoric an occasion as his debut back in November. It was a more difficult night for the Titi Parisien, with France’s midfield in general being outfought. Zaïre-Emery was light in the duels and lost the ball in dangerous positions on a couple of occasions. He’ll have better nights in what promises to nonetheless be a glistening international career.

Kylian Mbappé – 4

Threatening down the left, but like Dembélé on the opposite wing, ineffective. He should have done better with his one clear-cut opportunity on the night but made the wrong choice in attempting to chip Ter Stegen.

Marcus Thuram – 3

The Inter Milan forward had just 21 touches on the night (no player on either side had fewer) and was completely ineffective. A missed opportunity for Thuram, who would have sought to give Deschamps a selection headache ahead of the Euros. With fans chanting for Olivier Giroud’s introduction in the second half, it is clear who remains first choice. 

Ousmane Dembélé – 5

His manager at club level, Luís Enrique, has said that Dembélé is “the most destabilising player in the world”. His ability in one-on-one situations was clear once again against Germany, but he still lacks the finishing touch: the pass, the shot. France’s brightest spark on the night but he wasn’t decisive enough to make a true mark on the game. 

GFFN | Luke Entwistle

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