In June, the Blues still have not won. Held in check, Friday, June 10, by Austria (1-1) for the second time in three Nations League games, the France team has only two points, and is dead last in its group led by the Denmark (6 points). Didier Deschamps’ players avoided in extremis, thanks to the inevitable Kylian Mbappé, a second defeat in Austria in the 21st century, after losing 3-1 in September 2008 during the 2010 World Cup qualifiers.

The balance sheet is not great but the France team presents mitigating circumstances: injured players (Ngolo Kanté and Raphaël Varane), others diminished like Kylian Mbappé (substitute and entered in the second period) and most exhausted by a long season played in big European clubs.

Holders of the title of this new competition, which replaces the friendly matches, the Blues have above all another much more significant objective. From November 21 to December 18, in Qatar, they will try to defend a title of another standing, that of world champion.

So certainly, such a series without a win is always bad. However, this is not the time for a fight. The coach had warned before this trip to the heart of Central Europe: “These are preparation matches, too, in anticipation of what awaits us at the end of the year [the World Cup]. Hence the interest of having different players, different systems, which must bring more answers”.

He also knew the quality of the opponent: “In its two matches, this Austrian team was impressive in terms of dynamism, determination, physical freshness. Collectively they put a lot of intensity because they have a very good physical freshness. »

Answers, the Dèche has certainly collected some this Friday evening. Any world champion that you are, the level of European football no longer offers walks in the park. And this is even more true when you have to field a substitute team or a mixed team.

No more health walks

In Vienna, unlike the second of the four matches of this autumn marathon in Split, Didier Deschamps had chosen the second option. In Croatia, only two world champions had started the match (Presnel Kimpembe and Benjamin Pavard). In Austria, they were five at kick-off. Six with the entry into play of Mbappé. It was not enough to win but it allowed the French team to equalize.

At kick-off, the coach still lined up six potential starters with the ubiquitous Aurélien Tchouaméni, future Madrid player and once again impressive in midfield. On the side of the newcomers, the neophyte Ibrahima Konate (central defense) celebrated his first selection while Boubacar Kamara, hardly successful, started in the middle for the first time. William Saliba (in central defense) and Moussa Diaby (corridor player) begin to chain international capes.

Attractive winners in Croatia (3-0), before losing to Denmark like the Blues, the Austrians had nothing to do with expiatory victims. Ralf Rangnick’s proteges showed qualities of dynamism and a desire to play, against the reigning world champions, which was inspiring.

In their mythical Ernst Happel stadium, in the heart of the green lung of the Austrian capital, the famous Prater, the “Rot-Weiss-Roten” ran to the four corners of the field without catching their breath. And it was the French team that tripped over the carpet, failing to fall entirely into the trap or… into the hole that appeared last Monday after the match against the Danes, and which has since been filled.

The first opportunity was French. Launched by Antoine Griezmann, Moussa Diaby overtook his vis-à-vis, Nicolas Sewald, who had no choice but to tackle him irregularly to stop him. On the free kick, badly returned by goalkeeper Patrick Pentz, Karim Benzema took the ball with his head. The Austrian goalkeeper succeeded this time with a superb one-handed reflex save (17th).

The French team offered nice collective movements, led by a very fair Benzema, but sometimes lacked efficiency in the last gesture, like a nice acceleration from Diaby, concluded by an awkward cross. And, in defense, Benjamin Pavard even took on the role of firefighter on duty by saving the situation twice.

But on a bad pass from Griezmann, not recovered by Benzema, Marko Arnautovic split with Konrad Laimer whose perfect cross was victoriously taken over by Andreas Weimann (1-0, 37th). Already the boss despite his young age (22), Tchouaméni showed his annoyance when he did not see an Austrian coming behind him after struggling to recover one more ball (40th).

Mbappé essential

In the second period, the French returned with other intentions. They monopolized the ball, without however managing, for long minutes, to worry Patrick Pentz. Kingsley Coman’s clumsiness even prevented an early equaliser: in the 55th minute, the Bavarian missed his shot just meters from the Austrian goal. We had to rely on Mbappé, spared since an injury against Denmark. The Parisian changed the face of the meeting. Twenty minutes after his appearance, he escaped to send a powerful shot into the top corner (83rd, 1-1).

A few minutes later, another of his shots was deflected on his bar by Patrick Pentz. The local goalkeeper, author of a great match, still saved his people in stoppage time on a resumption of the head of Matteo Guendouzi. The Austrian team could celebrate this draw with their spectators as a victory. Les Bleus couldn’t be happy about it but they weren’t dejected after showing a much better face in the second half.

Philosopher, Hugo Lloris had warned before the meeting. The French captain longed to regain victory, even if playing poorly. “We are looking for good performances, but sometimes you have to know how to win in another way, he pleaded, We are always looking for a good game, but sometimes you may have to know how to close the game, like we were able to do it in the past, where, by playing perhaps a little less well, we were able to win in a slightly different way. »

Faced with Croatia on Monday, surprise winner, in the evening, in Denmark (1-0), the Blues will have to hear the message. Either way, success will be imperative. Otherwise the father of victory for the Blues – Didier Deschamps – could turn into a bogeyman.