With ten changes in the starting lineup and the use of a different tactical system, with four defenders, Didier Deschamps wanted to test his squad on Monday, June 6, against Croatia, five months before the World Cup in Qatar. But if the Blues delivered a solid performance, with great application, they were joined in the score in the last minutes of the game (1-1), as against Denmark, during the first day of the League of Nations (1-2).
Mike Maignan aligned in goal, an unprecedented hinge composed of William Saliba and Presnel Kimpembe, a first tenure for Mattéo Guendouzi, Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappé on the bench… In Split, the important thing for Didier Deschamps was to put his usual substitutes on the test. “We are in a competition, but above all these are preparation matches for the end of the year”, he confided to the microphone of M6 after the meeting. On the content of the game, the coach must have appreciated the technical mastery of his players, their application and their defensive solidity; but there are still areas of work for the Blues.
Offensively, if Christopher Nlunku and Moussa Diaby combined well, the tricolors lacked automatisms and Wissam Ben Yedder was almost ghostly against a very well organized Croatian block. The Monegasque, whom his teammates struggled to find, simply distinguished himself with an assist for Adrien Rabiot for the opener in the 52nd minute of the game.
A defensive alignment to work on
Further down the field, Aurélien Tchouaméni confirmed his enormous potential by behaving as the boss of the midfield. With only nine selections on the clock, he made his volume of play speak to actively participate in recovering the ball and preventing the Croats from projecting themselves into the French camp. The latter proceeded more in counterattacks, taking advantage of the spaces left in the back of the Kimpembe-Saliba hinge. The two defenders, well helped by Mike Maignan, nevertheless made decisive interventions to prevent the equalizer, which finally came from the penalty spot, in the 83rd minute, after a foul by Jonathan Clauss on Andrej Kramaric.
As against Denmark, the Blues are therefore deprived of victory in the last minutes of the meeting, which Adrien Rabiot regretted: “I’m quite disappointed, I think the group too. I felt that we had the game in hand, we conceded a penalty on a careless error and we left with a point, when we had the means to seek victory. Didier Deschamps’ men, who therefore only have one point in Group 1 of League A of the League of Nations, will try to catch up in Austria on Friday.