Euro football: France-Portugal, and if the best attack was defense …



France in football is waiting to know whether Didier Deschamps will or will not go back on his own by not establishing Karim Benzema, mute and powerless since his return to the France team. The clues plead rather for a retention of the Madrilenian. But the great upheaval is preparing elsewhere, in the defensive sector, to try to ensure victory. And a first place in the group, synonymous with an opponent in the round of 16 in principle more affordable.

→ CONTEXT. The Blues already qualified for the round of 16, before Portugal

“I will try to give a puzzle (sic) to the coach “, jokes Everton defender Lucas Digne, aware that his tenure against Portugal is hanging by a thread, which may have broken during a performance considered average against Hungary. In view of the happy face of Lucas Hernandez, his competitor for this position, during the final training sessions, the latter slightly affected during an impeccable performance against Germany could find his place.

Indisputable in his Bayern club, Lucas Hernandez has, since the 2018 World Cup, the preference of Didier Deschamps on the left flank. His club mate Benjamin Pavard set foot on the right flank, at least until his clash against Germany and a very average copy against Hungary, which could deprive him of the game against Portugal. To the benefit apparently of the Sevilla player Jules Koundé, who got the best of the Lyonnais Léo Dubois during the small matches organized in training.

Good comrade, Lucas Digne flew to the aid of his comrade Pavard in difficulty. “I don’t worry about him, he’s a very great player who is used to pressure”, he launched, paid to know that a side can lose all credibility and confidence in a lost duel or a bad placement. He is also aware of the double responsibility of this increasingly complete position. “It has become a very difficult position, we are asked to defend, which is normal but also to attack. He’s one of the toughest physically. “

Football marathon runners

The statistics published at the end of each match by UEFA are unambiguous: it is the two full-backs who have run the most against Hungary, respectively 10.23 km (Digne) and 10.22 km (Pavard). Even N’Golo Kanté, the usual marathoner of the France team, made a little less distance (10.21 km). This double attack-defense cap is due to the system of play adopted by Didier Deschamps, who chose to line up three attackers accustomed to poking in the center, leaving the responsibility of the corridors to the laterals supposed to be mounted during the offensive.

→ ANALYSIS. Euro 2021: the Blues launched in a physical and mental marathon

When they don’t trigger it. Deemed to be a better air crosser than Lucas Hernandez, Lucas Digne was preferred to the Bayern player for his ability to challenge Hungarian defenders not very skillful with the head. Lucas Hernandez crosses rather strong and low to the ground (as in the goal against Germany), which places him in pole position to face Portuguese considered a little heavy in central defense.

The Roberto Carlos model

In modern football, the post of pure winger at Georges Bereta no longer exists. This accentuated their freedom of movement. This mini-revolution was triggered around the 2000s by Bixente Lizarazu or Roberto Carlos, famous Brazilian side of Madrid, better known for his offensive rides than for his victories in defensive duels.

Of these great old pocket (Lizarazu and Carlos measure less than 1, 70 m), the men of the corridor of today have retained the movement. Adding a few centimeters to the menu to add their head game (Pavard measures 1.86 m, Hernandez 1.80 m). The current side do not get carried away, like Bacary Sagna, long holder in blue on the right. “We are defenders above all: you can bring as much as you want on the offensive side, but if you don’t do the job defensively, you create danger for yours”, he declared in France Football.

Especially since in the Portuguese camp will roam, this Wednesday, June 23, the one who remains one of the very best players in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo, who constantly slides to the right and left of the field, making the defenders dizzy. “It will take a lot of talking to not give him space”, warns Lucas Digne. Probably easier said than done.

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Already qualified, France wants first place

Qualified for the knockout stages before playing, with at worst a good third place assured from Monday June 21, the French will approach this third match focused on the goal of winning against the Portuguese, who would give them first place in the group. F. This first place would allow them to meet in the round of 16 an opponent within their reach, Switzerland, Finland or Ukraine, Monday 28 in Bucharest. A second place would send them Tuesday 29 to London, potentially to face the English at home. A third place would send them against Belgium or the Netherlands, Sunday 27, in Seville or Budapest.

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