At the Stade de France,
“I am going to have an educational summer”… Speaking on the eve of the second game against Croatia, these words of Didier Deschamps never seemed so true as after the defeat of the Blues on Monday evening against the vice-champions of the world, the culmination of a failed League of Nations campaign across the board.
And if the context surrounding the coach, who was in pain of losing his father at the start of the rally, should lead us to analyze these four games with the utmost caution, he should not vampire everything. Indeed, at this meeting, Deschamps gave us the impression that he was in control of nothing or almost, starting with his new system of three defenders, exfiltrated through the emergency exit of the first unrest against Denmark.
Four games, four systems (and lots of questions)
In defense we know that Deschamps was never a big fan of the 3-4-3 and that he only decided to pull it out of the hat to get his Griezmann-Benzema-Mbappé trio in the best conditions. † If, however, there is nothing to report on the part of Mbappé and Benzema (only a drop in speed from KB9 on Friday, but nothing very illogical after the mutant season he put us through), Griezmann is nothing more than a shadow of the player he months ago. Or a few years, you’re going to wonder.
From then on, DD the pragmatist adapted and, to tackle the most urgent, reverted to a four-back system, which is said to be more reassuring for a defense that is low on confidence. The problem is that by building such a list, including Mr. Piston right Jonathan Clauss, it seems a shame to throw everything away at the first loss. Especially since he himself announced it: these four matches would be an opportunity to give his group “reference points” in this three-back system…
The coach has been trying to tell us in recent days that this return to a four-man defense was an opportunity for him to work on alternative systems for the World Cup, the general impression after these four games is more of a mess than anything else. † After the flat 4-4-2 in Croatia and Austria, the coach on Monday opted for a 4-3-3 that yielded nothing but mush, before coming back in the second half and returning to a mid-four, with the Benzema-Mbappe duo in front.
“The results prove us wrong”
We also pass on these choices of man, who did not fail to raise an eyebrow à la Carlo Ancelotti when we saw, for example, that Koundé was established in a position of right-hand side that is not his and never will be. We all remember the ordeal the former Sevillan went through at the last European Championship, against Portugal, we didn’t need another confirmation on Monday. This penultimate meeting before the World Cup would be an opportunity to establish some certainties, it ends in the end with many questions and at least as much concern.
“If we saw ourselves too well, we will have to react,” Deschamps admitted after the game. We did not meet the high demands of this rally. I will have the analysis and the reflection with my staff, but it will take many, many more things if we are to maintain the standard that is ours. We will have to do a lot more at the beginning of the school year to prepare for the deadline that lies ahead. From the moment we have not done what was necessary, we have to make our own self-criticism. The results prove us wrong. †
At this point it is true that the Basque has never hidden the cult that he devoted to these famous “results”, the only ones that, in his eyes, are able to measure the performance of a team. After that disappointing month of June, it is here at the foot of the wall with very little time to reverse the trend. Summer is going to be eager to learn, there’s no doubt about it.