Mondial-2018: The Blues crush the Netherlands, leadership regained
Midfielder Thomas Lemar (L), who scored twice against the Netherlands in the World Cup 2018 at the Stade de France on 31 August 2017
It is refreshing, an orangeade in August: the Blues humiliated the Netherlands 4-0 on Thursday, with a double of Lemar and goals of Griezmann and Mbappé, and recovered their first place in group qualifying at the World Cup -2018.
31 August 2017 will remain a very nice day for French football: Didier Deschamps’s men have found their way to the Russian World Cup by signing their most impressive performance in the playoffs, and their prodigy Mbappé, barely transferred from Monaco at the PSG, scored his first goal in selection for his fifth cape.
A splendid day, as Bulgaria beat Sweden (3-2), matching the irony of history with a goal from Kostadinov. That allowed the French to take the first place with three points ahead of the same Scandinavians who surprised them in June (2-1).
The Blues have a favorable timetable for the sole qualifying spot, with the reception of the modest Luxembourg on Sunday in Toulouse, then a trip to Bulgaria and the reception of Belarus.
Sweden still have a home game (against Luxembourg) and especially two trips, to Belarus and to the Netherlands.
After a half-hearted season when the offensive leader of the Blues had missed out on the big matches, Griezmann was found, blond hair half-length in the wind. Alerted by Sidibé, he leaned on Giroud to infiltrate the surface, adjust his flat foot and beat Cillessen (14th).
In the following minutes, “Grizou” sacrificed to check an opposing counter-attack and was awarded a yellow card (17th). A way of taking responsibility, as a boss. And he offered a decisive pass to Lemar.
– Lemar rewarded –
“The French team could line up three good teams side by side, it’s not our case,” Dick Advocaat said Thursday. And the class of gap anticipated by the Dutch coach was seen. These Netherlands were closer to the big absentees of the Euro-2016 than the beautiful 3rd World Cup-2014.
French dominance was blatant in first place, where the game was almost confined in the half oranje, although the Blues did not manage to realize this seizure in net opportunities.
It was less caricatural in the second half, but the exclusion of Strootman (62) pushed the match to a demonstration on the scoreboard.
Experienced players called to the rescue side Dutch did not really do the job. Robben did not weigh, missed the ball and put his head down (69th) and finding the bar (90th) on the only two clear chances of his team, Sneijder did not run, replaced at the break, and Van Persie, after a long hour of play, remained ghostly.
The debate about the Swedish cold weather had focused on the wings occupied by Sissoko and Payet. The two absent ones were replaced by Coman and Lemar, to their advantage.
But what about Lemar? It was his second set-up only in Blue (6th selection), but the subtle Monegasque, which maddened the rumors on this last day of mercato, gave the impression of being there for a long time. And his successful performance was crowned with his first two goals in Bleu: the goal of the 2-0, the deliverance for the Stade de France, a nice half volley of the left (73rd), then a simple ball pushed in the cages on an offense from Griezmann (88th).
As soon as his roulette zidanesque (14th), he deployed his sense of the game forward and the accuracy of his passes, for a successful integration in the collective.
– Mbappé, first –
And Mbappé, who entered for the last quarter of an hour in Giroud’s place, raised the clamor of the audience with each touch of ball, attempting class gestures and a strike (80), and scoring at 18 years of a strike without control to give the match of gala paces (90th + 1).
Coman, without being decisive, often set fire to his wing, speeding and elimination, putting to death his opposite Blind, even if he sinned in the last gesture. Even though his center-shot was heading towards the dormer if the keeper had not turned it into a corner (39th), and some centers could have deserved better fate.
If Deschamps retained his 4-4-2, he preferred Kanté to the detriment of Matuidi to help Pogba, who made Pogba. And Kante shone in obscure tasks, from interceptions to jumps, in this register that made him elect the best player of the Championship of England last season.