PARIS : France only grabbed two points from four Nations League games this month, a series of results that leaves them facing uncertain times five months before the start of the World Cup.
Les Bleus lost at home against Denmark and Croatia, against whom they drew away, also taking a point in Austria, which eliminated them from the race to the final four in Group A1.
While coach Didier Deschamps was not devastated that France surrendered their Nations League title without such key players as Paul Pogba, Raphael Varane, N’Golo Kante or Lucas Hernandez, questions arose on where this team is going.
Deschamps switched from a 3-4-3 to a 4-3-3 and also a 4-4-2 formation, giving the impression he had not yet decided how the world champions would play in Qatar.
“I’m not the worrying type,” said Deschamps.
“We’ll think it over with my staff but it’s clear we will need more if we want to keep our status (as world champions).”
However, the former France captain argued that his squad lacked freshness at the end of a demanding season, especially in the cases of Karim Benzema and Ibrahima Konate who played in the Champions League final at the end of last month.
But Deschamps conceded his team needed to show more character if they are to retain their title in December.
“We haven’t done enough so we have to question ourselves. It’s not all black and white. I just hope we can get our physical strength back and that the players rediscover their fighting spirit,” he said.
Among the players who have disappointed is Antoine Griezmann, who has not been able to find his touch after a complicated season and the Atletico Madrid forward did not start Monday’s game against Croatia, which France lost 1-0 in Paris.
“We lacked strength, character and energy. We have to accept that and even I did not have the strength to transmit this energy to them,” said Deschamps, whose father died shortly before the opening game against Denmark.
On a positive note, Aurelien Tchouameni has established himself as a starter in midfield, where his energy and precision will be key when France try to salvage their Nations League campaign with games against Austria and Denmark in September. Both matches are also the last rehearsal matches before Qatar.
Deschamps will be hoping that Benzema and Kylian Mbappe will do the rest up front.
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