Frown, question interruption, long backhand. And this is how the blue caravan started up again at the start of the week, in Clairefontaine. Invited to look back on the lost final of the last World Cup and to describe his taste, Didier Deschamps first apologized, then dropped a strong blow: « I’m sorry, but here, I’m in a rally, so I’m not going to talk about what happened in December. The taste, the thing, I’ve already had to express myself on it and it’s behind us. It’s in the past and I don’t want to go back to it. It won’t help anyway.» The world can bark, the Blues pass. Here they are even back to business, this Friday, at the Stade de France, facing the Netherlands, whom they have not received for dinner since a night in September 2018 when the tricolor band had come to celebrate the second world coronation of the country’s history.
But how are they, exactly? Mystery, mystery, the digestion of a slide on the tops of the steepest mountain in top-level football varying from case to case. Deschamps analyzed the thing alongside his close guard, with whom he even recently shared a karting outing in Chartres. Some elements (Lloris, Varane, Mandanda, Benzema) have instead chosen to withdraw from international football after a World Cup which will have been « a handover between two generations» (Hugo Lloris). The rest quickly turned their eyes and fangs towards the next major conquest of the Blues: the Euro, which will be played in Germany in the summer of 2024 and which is the only international trophy missing from the medal box. Didier Deschamps coach. Until then, a new story must be written.
Sport fearless generation
To write it, you first need a titular goalkeeper, installed, undisputed and the question of the identity of the new guard of the tricolor woods was quickly decided by a Deschamps who, without any surprise, chose to put Mike Maignan, five selections, the number one cape. At his side, the Milan goalkeeper saw a new colleague tumble this week, Brice Samba, a man who has come a long way and who is also as comfortable with his two feet as with his hands, which could offer valuable new possibilities for French recovery. This will be one of the curiosities of this first international evening of 2023, as will the integration of the two young people from Nice (Khephren Thuram and “JC” Todibo) and the role that will be given to a Kolo Muani who has not slowed down since. his unbridled and almost heroic entry against Argentina, to the point of applying for a jump seat in the holders’ bus and now seeing more and more opponents get on his side, which he explained on Wednesday to The Team : « They defend three or four against me. It’s simple, they don’t want me to touch the ball. As soon as I touch it, I am stamped. […] You have to be smarter and try to vary, fix, take the depth, pick up, but I like it. It gives me more importance, it allows me to evolve and prove to myself that I am dangerous.»Another strangeness of this first meeting of the year: for the first time in his mandate, Didier Deschamps had to untangle the knots linked to the captain’s armband left by Hugo Lloris on the balcony of the Hôtel de Crillon on December 19. And there, things got a little more complicated.
If the rookie Jean-Clair Todibo claimed that Kylian Mbappé, leader designated Monday evening, was «apte» to assume such a responsibility, Didier Deschamps knows that his choice had two direct consequences. The first: to make a disappointed – Antoine Griezmann, 117 selections, who will remain with Lloris and Varane one of the most faithful soldiers of his mandate. The second: by appointing Mbappé captain, the boss of the Blues assumes to concentrate even more powers on a head which, if it is rather well done, must already carry a stere of pressure. The PSG striker, who arrived at Clairefontaine as a clan leader, all dressed in blue and with sunglasses on his nose, may have planted a hat-trick in the final of the last World Cup, jostled the FFF on the question of the rights to the image and finished shaking an already weakened Noël Le Graët, it is a special status that he is about to take in his arms, he who had only agreed to speak into a microphone on the obligation of FIFA, after the victory over Poland at the World Cup. A status that Lloris pushed him to embrace after the final against Argentina. A leader status of a generation of guys « reckless, who are not afraid of much» according to Marcus Thuram, whom he introduced on Thursday, during the traditional pre-match press conference at the Stade de France, stating « do not want to monopolize the media space» and highlighting «son how». Now, onto the grass.