the Blues resume their journey to Euro 2024


Kylian Mbappé, in Clairefontaine, in the Yvelines, on June 14, 2023. FRANCK FIFE / AFP It has already been more than ten years since Didier Deschamps took on the role…

the Blues resume their journey to Euro 2024

the Blues resume their journey to Euro 2024

Kylian Mbappé, in Clairefontaine, in the Yvelines, on June 14, 2023. Kylian Mbappé, in Clairefontaine, in the Yvelines, on June 14, 2023. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

It has already been more than ten years since Didier Deschamps took on the role of coach of the French men’s football team. When he says that the month of June is not “never an ideal period” for internationals, he therefore speaks from experience. “The players have such overloaded schedules… They all need a rest”, summed up the Basque technician, on June 9, at a press conference. This is all the more true at the time of concluding a season which will have seen his men finish a fine second in the first winter World Cup in historyin November and December 2022, in Qatar.

But, before enjoying a well-deserved vacation, the Blues still have “two games on the program” And “six points to add to [leur] counter », insisted “DD”. Friday, June 16, his troops face Gibraltar, in Faro (Portugal). Monday June 19, at the Stade de France (Seine-Saint-Denis), they have an appointment with Greece.

These two meetings count for qualification for Euro 2024. Alone at the top of Group B, the French opened their way to Germany (June 14-July 14, 2024) with two victories – against the Netherlands (4-0) And the Republic of Ireland (0-1). They now have the opportunity to widen the gap on their pursuers, while the first two selections of each group validate their ticket for the next continental championship.

Gibraltar inspires little fear

The demonstration, in March, against the Oranje, presented as their main rivals, suggests that these meetings in June are a formality. At least on paper. The poster against Gibraltar is unprecedented and hardly inspires fear for the Blues. The small British enclave on Spanish soil points to the 201e place in the International Football Federation (FIFA) standings, and Didier Deschamps had already been on the tricolor bench for more than a year when the team played its first official match – it was November 19, 2013 and a match friendly against Slovakia (0-0). To date, the Red and Whites have lost all their duels during the Euro qualifying campaigns in which they have taken part.

Crowned continental champion in 2004, Greece is no longer as tough as in the past, absent from the last two editions of the tournament, as from the last two Worlds. And if it is second in Group B before its meeting against Ireland on Friday, it is thanks to its victory against… Gibraltar (3-0).

Monday’s match against “the Pirate Ship” (nickname of the Greek selection) appears to be the “big” piece of the next few days, in the tricolor ranks. “Beware of overconfidence, but I don’t think it will happen to us”underlined the defender Jules Koundé, Tuesday, June 13. “These are the most complicated matches to play because you don’t necessarily know the team, you have to be more determined than usual, abounds midfielder Eduardo Camavinga. It’s like against Spain or another team, you have to play hard because they are the best players in a nation. »

Mbappé could match or even overtake Platini

Didier Deschamps, too, refuses to sin out of pride: “You have to have respect for Gibraltar. I’m leaving with the idea of ​​making the team as competitive as possible. This does not mean that it will be the starting team, but these three points will have the same value as [ceux de] Monday. » The coach of the vice-world champions still has in mind the routs of previous years, at the same period: the two draws against Croatia and Austria and the two defeats against Denmark and Croatia in the League of Nations 2022; the 2-0 conceded against Turkey in the framework of the qualifications for the Euro in 2019 or the 2-1 for the benefit of Sweden during the qualifiers for the world cup in 2017.

Of course, with five possible changes, he acknowledges, “it leaves a margin” and, in fact, “there will be game time management”. While defender Théo Hernandez, slightly injured in a calf, had to miss training, the technician was also forced to revise his plans after the injury packages of left-back Ferland Mendy and midfielder Adrien Rabiot (one of the key men in his system), leaving a rather inexperienced group in this sector of the game – four of the six called up have less than ten selections and only two are aged 25 or over.

“We remain pros and we will be keen to win the matches”, promises Eduardo Camavinga. To conclude their 2022-2023 exercise in style, the Blues will no doubt be able to count on their captain, Kylian Mbappé. “I have only one concern, you will see [vendredi] when I go on the pitch: it’s to help my team win”, he said at a press conference on the eve of the match. It is to bet that the star striker, whose future at Paris Saint-Germain is still making headlines, will be keen to continue his quest for records.

Against Gibraltar and Greece, he could equal or even exceed Michel Platini’s number of goals in Blue (41, 4e best scorer of the selection), he who already has 38. And to summarize: “It’s all about mindset. The fatigue is there, but we are ready to make the last necessary efforts. We must never forget that it is a privilege to play for France, we will show that we are proud to wear this jersey. »

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Between Kylian Mbappé and PSG, an increasingly complex relationship

Aude Lasjaunias

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