It was probably also calculated that French footballers made their celebrations on the Al Bayt lawn look very sparse. Of course, on Wednesday evening the usual congratulations followed for the difficult 2-0 win over Morocco in the World Cup semifinals in the desert tent of Qatar. But there was nothing more than a jubilant leap for the seemingly lost supporters of »Bleus« behind the goal in the midst of the large North African fan base. The lap of honor should belong to the brave outsider in front of his many loafers, while the serene world champion would rather disappear into the dressing room, where it was much easier to celebrate in the presence of the French President.
Emmanuel Macron symbolically waved three French flags to testify to state support for the final against Argentina next Sunday via Twitter: »Merci, les Bleus! Maintenant, la Coupe!« (Thanks, you blue ones. Now the trophy!). It would be the third time after 1998 and 2018. Hence the flag trio. What happened in the locker room was already suspiciously reminiscent of a break that could also break out on Qatar’s national day in the Lusail stadium after the final. The football pros jumped and hopped around to the gala hit »Freed from desire« – and a president right in the middle. Macron later politely praised the interaction of “several generations” and also called his team “a bit more complete” than final opponents Argentina.
The politician, who pays attention to profiling, was not entirely wrong in his assessment. The current Equipe Tricolore features some refreshing faces compared to 2018, such as the great midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni at 22, but has retained the traditional values of the tournament four years ago. The result always comes first. For the Grande Nation, this community could serve as a lesson in seriousness. Spectacle is never performed for its own sake.
Coach Didier Deschamps spoke of “challenging moments” which included the illness-related absences of defender Dayot Upamecano, who is expected to be fit on Sunday, and midfielder Adrien Rabiot, who Deschamps said had caught flu-like symptoms from the constant air conditioning. No problem for this professional squad, whose style of play is not suitable for world champions of hearts.
The Selectionneur has again formed a team of efficiency. It fits the pragmatic approach that the 54-year-old didn’t feel the slightest inclination to exaggerate himself. The fact that the Basque would be given a place in the history books after three World Cup titles as a player and coach and the first title defense since Brazil in 1962 apparently did not interest him: “I’m not important. I’m proud of the team.« Deschamps manages to get some of his stars to reinvent themselves.
In his role as playmaker, Antoine Griezmann exudes such a thirst for success that the experts voted him player of the game as the best French diligent worker. »Morocco impressed me. They created a number of chances in the second half,’ admitted the 31-year-old, knowing ‘that early goal made things easier for us’. After Theo’s first World Cup goal after five minutes, who was only flushed into the starting eleven due to the serious injury to his brother Lucas Hernandez, the favorites in the coastal town of Al Khor were able to wait patiently for opportunities that inevitably arise due to the individual class of Kylian Mbappé. The 23-year-old was involved in making it 1-0 and also the trigger for Randal Kolo Muani, who had just come on as a substitute, to make it 2-0 in the 79th minute when the Eintracht Frankfurt striker scored the most important goal of his career with his first touch of the ball.
At this point, Deschamps had already replaced another Bundesliga attacker in Marcus Thuram from Borussia Mönchengladbach in order to change the statics in favor of the difference player Mbappé. In the end, France’s number ten ran less than ten kilometers, but a 35-year-old Lionel Messi can no longer accelerate from a standing start to 35 kilometers per hour.
The fact that the football world is now plunging into the showdown of the giants who have been royally rewarded from a Qatari sovereign wealth fund near Paris St. Germain cannot be prevented at all. Only this time it cannot be assumed that one steals the limelight from the other as much as on June 30, 2018. The young star Mbappé had overrun the Argentines as a double goal scorer in the furious round of 16 victory (4: 3) in Kazan, Russia, while the world star Messi stomped off with a stony expression. That doesn’t mean anything for Sunday, Descamps warned: “It’s a different team than the one we played four years ago.” Messi in particular is “in outstanding form. And he now plays in a different, more offensive role. We’ll try to limit his influence on the game this time as well.« If that succeeds, it won’t just be waving three flags.
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