Injuries to defeat: how the Blues lost the thread of their Euro

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Euro-2021 ended prematurely on Monday for the France team against Switzerland in the round of 16. The conclusion of an eventful month between internal tensions, physical glitches and performances below the standards of the Blues.

Four small matches and then go. The French world champions, yet favorites in Euro-2021, experienced a complicated competition concluded with an elimination against Switzerland on Monday, June 28. Over the month preceding this early track exit, France gradually lost the thread between faulty preparation and cascading injuries.

• “Balloons that do not arrive”

The broad smiles that accompanied the return of Benzema after five years and seven months of absence in Blue, on the first day of the rally on May 26 at Clairefontaine, quickly disappeared from the faces.

From the second preparation match, against Bulgaria (3-0), Olivier Giroud publicly regrets that “balls do not arrive”, aiming without naming him Kylian Mbappé, whom he considers too individualistic. The Parisian, reassembled, hastens to reply at a press conference: “I would have preferred him to come (tell me to my face) and be even much more virulent”, asserts the 22-year-old striker.

What he considers “trifle” locker room nevertheless symbolizes the fracture within the group, where competition was very limited even before the start of the tournament.

For a month, the team was in fact split in two in training, between the executives that had to be rested and the replacements to be kept in the rhythm. And Giroud hardly replayed afterwards.

• Blues who are physically tired

“In the first game, we had a bit of heavy legs due to the preparation.” And on the second, “there was a heat that was unbelievable” and “the body took a hit”. Asked about the physical condition of the troops after two meetings, Antoine Griezmann did not hide a certain fatigue.

At that time, the Barcelonan refused to worry, convinced that the rise in power perceived at the 2018 World Cup would be repeated. But ten days later, it is clear that the Blues have not been able to raise the energy cursor, still stifled by their stay in the heatwave of Eastern Europe.

The preparation built by the staff, based on big endurance sessions at Clairefontaine at the end of May, has not borne fruit. And the intensive training concocted for the substitutes, under 35 degrees the day after the match, may have offended some players, like Kingsley Coman, irritated by such workloads.

• Cascading injuries

Spared by injuries when composing his list, except those of Ferland Mendy and Anthony Martial, Didier Deschamps was quickly caught up by physical glitches within his group.

Adrien Rabiot (ankle) and Lucas Hernandez (knee) both dragged recurring discomfort forcing them to manage their playing time. Benjamin Pavard suffered two impressive shocks in two matches, the first of which, in Germany, fueled several criticisms about the proper implementation of the medical protocol.

And several important jokers stuck out successively. Ousmane Dembélé suffered a serious thigh injury and his package was recorded before the third group match, Lucas Digne was sidelined just minutes after coming into play against Portugal (2-2) , Marcus Thuram injured his right adductor during training and Thomas Lemar suffered a very painful blow to his left foot! A massacre …

• The executives of the Mondial-2018 did not respond present

So imperial in Russia, the France team did not have the expected performance three years later, despite stars in all positions. Raphaël Varane, intractable in 2018, showed some flaws, N’Golo Kanté did not repeat his exploits of the Champions League final phase won with Chelsea, and Hugo Lloris admittedly deflected a penalty against Switzerland, but did not failed to achieve the rare saves he would have had to make, even narrowly missing the exclusion on a punch given to Danilo Pereira in Game 3.

Above all, the offensive triangle supposed to illuminate the continent has not found its automatisms: Kylian Mbappé, very restless but clumsy, has still not scored in the European Championship and his failed goal shot sealed the elimination of the Blues. Antoine Griezmann lost influence in the game. Only Karim Benzema survived with braces against Portugal and Switzerland.

Sign of a certain perfectibility, Deschamps has modified his tactical scheme on several occasions, even choosing to align some players in unusual positions, such as Jules Koundé and Corentin Tolisso on the right flank. Too many approximations to get the double.

With AFP

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