We have often praised or castigated the legendary pragmatism of Didier Deschamps. His supporters attributed the coach’s victories to him, his detractors made it the cause of too cautious a game. In less than six months, this eternal refrain has gone out of fashion. In place since 2012, the strong man of the Blues waited almost ten years to perform a spectacular tactical transformation.
Tuesday March 29, during a big victory against South Africa (5-0) in Villeneuve-d’Ascq, like a few days earlier against Côte d’Ivoire in Marseille (2-1), the The French team has again introduced a 3-4-3 system, which is not afraid to accept a little imbalance – for a long time a dirty word in football for Deschamps – to better surprise its opponent. And twice, despite the friendly context of these meetings, the spectators had the right to pleasant matches, far from certain sluggish representations of the past.
After the first victory against the Ivorians, Didier Deschamps assumed his new philosophy with reckless inspirations. ” We can meet one on one. Otherwise, we find ourselves five defenders behind and that’s not what I wanthe dared, I don’t choose this system to lock but to create more danger. Côte d’Ivoire gave us problems on the left side but they didn’t solve the ones we asked them. »
Against an opposition from the “Bafana Bafana”, much less formidable than that offered by the “Elephants”, the Blues did not even have to worry about a possible lack of caution. Not qualified for the next World Cup, South Africa suffered against the tricolor waves. The danger came from everywhere. And in particular the judicious use of the excess number caused on the sides by the lane players, the famous “pistons” so called because they slide throughout the game, bringing offensive danger and also responsible for blocking their lanes in defensive phase.
In the Lille suburbs, Lucas Digne – ex-LOSC player – and Jonathan Clauss – current Lens player, whistled by a large part of the local public – have taken on this energy-consuming and essential role in this system. Digne stood out in particular, combining several times with Kylian Mbappé, untenable as usual, author of a double and scorer for the ninth time in his last five games in blue.
At the 16and minute, the subtle deviation of the first allowed the second to cross dangerously for Olivier Giroud. At the 38and minute, it was the Parisian who served his teammate in a winger position for a shot stopped by the South African goalkeeper, Ronwen Williams.
But it was on the other side, a quarter of an hour earlier, that the Blues had found the opening. Clauss launched Antoine Griezmann, right side. The latter overtook his opponents before crossing for Mbappé. Control, hook to eliminate his defender and curled shot in the top corner of the PSG star (1-0, 23and).
Ten minutes later, the French attack showed the extent of its palette: full axis this time, Griezmann found in depth Olivier Giroud, already a scorer on his return to Marseille against the Ivorians. The Milan striker scored the second goal with characteristic composure, taking the time to get around the poor defender and take Williams on the wrong foot (2-0, 33and).
“My line of conduct”
“Dédé”, the champion of pragmatism, recognized for his tactics designed to outsmart the opposing team, has therefore transformed himself into a coach with a playful spirit, aware of the offensive potential of his proteges. ” I don’t want us to restrain each other because there’s danger. It’s not a risk. That’s my line of conduct.” he also said before facing South Africa.
His new course of action… Once is not custom for “this father victory”, the click occurred despite a disastrous experiment which ended in a scathing elimination in the round of 16 of Euro 2021.
Facing Switzerland, perhaps constrained by injuries, Deschamps abandoned the 4-3-3 used during the three group matches to establish this 3-4-3. Without real corridor specialists, Adrien Rabiot and Benjamin Pavard not having the qualities of the position, the Blues took the water of entry. The coach changed his tactics, his troops seemed to turn the game around, leading 3-1 before sinking and losing on penalties.
The “Dèche” had not drawn a line under this idea. And he was going to pull it out of his sleeve in the semi-final and final of the Nations League last October. This benefited a newcomer, Theo Hernandez, the player perfectly adaptable to the demands of this system. Real revelation of the Blues during the success in the League of Nations – replacing this evening but excellent against Côte d’Ivoire – the youngest of the siblings Hernandez symbolizes the assets. A month later, against Kazakhstan (8-0), Deschamps innovated by adding his counterpart on the right, Munich’s Kingsley Coman, used to playing as a winger. This reconversion worked wonderfully against the weak Kazakhs and also against better Ivorians.
The pistons in evidence
” Why stay behind if we have the ball? explained Deschamps about these two pistons. They are there to use the width. If one is high, you can have a little more security on the other side and that’s what Kingsley did on Friday. But otherwise, we go out at three [défenseurs centraux] and it’s up to them [les pistons] to occupy the width. »
Against the Ivorians and South Africans, that’s what the two different pairs of pistons did perfectly, contributing to the France team’s myriad chances in the second half. Less and less shy, less and less whistled and even given an ovation when he left at the end of the match, Jonathan Clauss hit just wide of the goal (50and), then crossed magnificently for Giroud who failed on the opposing goalkeeper (54and). At the 64and minute, to the left of the Blues attack, Lucas Digne’s shot landed on Williams’ post.
Ultra-dominant, the Habs completed their health walk with three new goals. First by a new number from Mbappé, who obtained and transformed a penalty (3-0, 76and). Then by substitute Wissam Ben Yedder, on the lookout at the far post for a header from another entrant, Paul Pogba (81and, 4-0). The Marseillais Mattéo Guendouzi closed the score with a shot judiciously placed in stoppage time (92and5-0).
In just over two months, the France team will play four matches in the 2022 Nations League, including the first on June 3 against Denmark. By the next World Cup in Qatar (November 21-December 18), the Blues only have official competitive matches. Enough to hope for even more of a show. And that, above all, the stakes do not take precedence over the game.