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In a delicate context, the France team chased away the worst to offer itself confidence and a deserved respite by easily winning against Australia to launch its World Cup.

It is never easy to be measured as a World Cup approaches, an adventure during which the cards are reshuffled and the logic sometimes shaken up. More than four years after its coronation in Russia, the French team presented itself in Qatar with few certainties and a collection of doubts. Worse, we had to expect a fiasco, too many tournaments, a life-size collapse, like in 2002. The most vicious, attracted by the smell of blood, were ready to see the band of Didier Deschamps crashing large widths. The worried had reason to be after a disastrous campaign in the League of Nations as a great rehearsal (three defeats, two draws, one victory), a medley of injuries among executives (N’Golo Kanté, Paul Pogba, Presnel Kimpembe , Mike Maignan, Christopher Nkunku) and a last-minute tile forcing Ballon d’Or Karim Benzema to leave the base camp in Doha to head home with his thigh in the bag.

The pessimists believed that the start of the scenario of the first match against Australia, at the Al-Janoub stadium, would prove them right. As if everything was not already going too badly in the life of the Blues, they took two additional blows in less than a minute, between Craig Goodwin’s opener and Lucas Hernandez’s injury exit, a a priori seriously hit in the knee on the same action. The words spoken by the coach the day before may have resonated in the heads of the tricolor players, mistreated in the first quarter of an hour: “You need calm and serenity. » These are two of the many ingredients put by Antoine Griezmann and his friends to write the rest of the story in their favor, with a large success at the key (4-1) and a good handful of elements to reassure themselves and chase away some clouds .

“This is the first difficulty we encounter in this tournament. We know it: in a competition like this, with each difficulty, it will be time to raise the level, all together. And we knew how to do it. » Hugo Lloris, happy captain

Satisfaction and little pressure

This time, Deschamps did not need to play down the situation in front of the press, his specialty in recent days. His foals took care of it on the field, like adults, even though the sky could have fallen on their heads in the 9e minute of play. “We could have rushed, not taken the time to build the actions. Despite that, I felt the team concentrated, in controlanalyzed Hugo Lloris after the game. It’s a good thing because we’re going to need it. This is the first difficulty we encounter in this tournament. We know it: in a competition like this, with each difficulty, it will be time to raise the level, all together. And we knew how to do it. » A first mountain climbed and a team that was one, which has not always been the case this year. It was just Australia, a rather weak opponent apart from a consistent first 25 minutes, but the good points abound: Olivier Giroud equalized Thierry Henry in finding the net in the World Cup, Théo Hernandez replaced perfectly his brother, Antoine Griezmann was brilliant, Kylian Mbappé altruistic, Ousmane Dembélé useful, Adrien Rabiot decisive, and the experimental and inexperienced hinge came as a nice surprise. A dream premiere, in short.

Above all, this inaugural success came after a day when we saw Argentina, presented as one of the big favourites, tripping over the modest but surprising Saudi Arabia of Hervé Renard. “It’s not just the Saudis who have caused problems for the favorites” noted Deschamps, thinking of the bad start of his family. “Four goals is good, even if we could have scored morehe even added, a bit demanding, but also fair. A first game is never easy. Well done to the whole group. » The Blues will not do as in 2002, it’s already settled. Nor will they advance in the competition with the same pressure: in truth, no one expects to see this decimated French team go all the way, while the curse of the reigning world champions hangs over the heads tricolor and that no selection has managed to keep the trophy since Brazil in 1962. Four days from finding Denmark, their pet peeve this year (defeats 2-0 and 2-1), France offered a smile and a little levity.

Are you not happy? Double !

By Clement Gavard


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Peggy McColl

Mentor l NY Times Bestselling Author. Hi, I'm Peggy McColl, and I'm here to deliver a positive message to you!

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