It is in a very heavy climate, where multiple affairs occupy the media scene, that a French team decimated by injuries finds the lawn of the Stade de France to face Austria, with the hope of finally winning. a match in this League of Nations. This last meeting at home before the World Cup should allow the Blues to reconcile their public with football for an evening.
It would almost be the return of a form of lightness to say that the event of the day for the France team is a simple football match. This should be normal, but it hasn’t lately, between the sordid court cases, the many serious revelations about the functioning of the French Football Federation and, to a lesser extent, the sling launched by Kylian Mbappé, supported by executives, to push the FFF to overhaul its image rights agreement. “A simple, logical and legitimate request” in the words of Raphaël Varane, who will wear the captain’s armband this Thursday evening against Austria. “The atmosphere is what it is, I’m cut off from the outside world. What interests me is what I see and what I have to do with my playersswept away Didier Deschamps in a press conference on the eve of this meeting. Whatever happens, the objective remains the same, it is the search for performance. » It is in this heavy climate that the world champions must find the ground and, if possible, the taste of victory three months after having taken the road to vacation with two defeats, two draws and even more doubts in their suitcases.
“You shouldn’t be surprised, we’ve been talking about overloaded schedules, player fatigue for years, and this season is even more intense than usual. » Raphaël Varane, evening captain
However, it will not be necessary to count on this final gathering before the World Cup to gain certainty. The face of the Blues this week should not resemble that of last June or that of next November. The consequence of an avalanche of injuries, eleven in all, which forces the coach to deal with a very reorganized group, including five novices (Alban Lafont, Adrien Truffert, Benoît Badiashile, Youssouf Fofana and Randal Kolo Muani). “The number of injured is huge.Varane found. Don’t be surprised, we’ve been talking about overloaded schedules, player fatigue for years, and this season is even more intense than usual. It is a context to which we must prepare and adapt. » Thus, six of the eleven holders in Vienna during the first leg disputed in June will not be in the game for the second leg, while Deschamps could opt for a return to a system of three central defenders, abandoned during the last three meetings of the Tricolors. “It’s not the injured who will lead me to change my mind, explained the coach. It makes me think, yes, but the approach is always the same: put the players individually in the best position. This does not prevent you from being able to change from one match to another or during the game, this is for example what Austria did recently. »
Only, the Blues are too diminished, especially in the midfield sector, where the six players present at the last Euro are not part of the group this week (Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kanté, Adrien Rabiot, Corentin Tolisso, Moussa Sissoko , Thomas Lemar), so that it is believed that the next two games will allow tactical adjustments to be made. What prompted Varane to accentuate the line on the importance of seeing “a collective state of mind. These two meetings to play will be with the aim of having common benchmarks and being stronger together. » An opportunity perhaps to see Aurelien Tchouaméni confirm his new status as a manager in the selection, and why not form a pair with his teammate at Real Madrid Eduardo Camavinga, back with the big boys after two years of absence. Another, too, to see Olivier Giroud, who is three goals short of equaling Thierry Henry in the history books, reminding us that his profile could be useful in Qatar. In a more pragmatic way, the band in Deschamps, who has still not won in this League of Nations, also knows that a success this Thursday evening would allow him to leave the last place in the group to Austria before the trip. in Denmark on Sunday, and perhaps move away from relegation to League B for the next edition. A trifle next to “huge challenge” (Deschamps) who is expecting him in November. Even if in a context where French football disgusts more than it enchants, a victory against Austria at the Stade de France, where the Blues have lost their last two matches (Denmark and Croatia), would look like a very small parenthesis comforting before plunging back into the sad reality.
By Clement Gavard