Shock turns to awe for Deschamps and France

‘This team brings emotion to the crowd and makes people fall in love with them’

France coach Didier Deschamps “Ireland were quite deep so we wanted to get Griezmann closer to Giroud and get some speed with Coman out wide and use the width better. But above all to get presence up front because the four attacking players with Dimitri, Antoine, Kinglsey and Giroud created presence up front and we created a lot of chances.” Photo: Getty Images

France coach Didier Deschamps “Ireland were quite deep so we wanted to get Griezmann closer to Giroud and get some speed with Coman out wide and use the width better. But above all to get presence up front because the four attacking players with Dimitri, Antoine, Kinglsey and Giroud created presence up front and we created a lot of chances.” Photo: Getty Images

 

Imagine. 50,000 French fans in the stadium and most of the 66 million citizens arond the country presuming that their team must beat Ireland because . . . how can France lose to Ireland? What an unexpected place for France to find themselves at 3.45pm on a Sunday afternoon. Trailing 1-0 at half-time. Against Ireland! Shocked by the swiftness with which Ireland scored. Shocked by the bullishness of James McClean, by the comfort in possession of Robbie Brady and by pretty much everything about Jeff Hendrick. Shocked by the fact that they had 45 minutes to rescue their tournament and their reputation.

“For me it is like this all year with Atletico,” admitted Antoine Griezmann, France’s saviour in the end, on the stifling pressure on the host team to deliver.

“We were hoping it would be different with the French team but it has been similar. We knew it would be complicated and we will look at what we did well and where we need to improve.”

Whether France can go on to justify their favourites tag is up for debate but they used the cool of the dressing room smartly against Ireland. Didier Deschamps allowed debate between first team players and substitutes and delivered a few words himself. “I can raise my voice at times,” he said. He also made the decision to push Griezmann into a more central role so he could work off Olivier Giroud, who played the role of battering-ram forward in the second half.

“It was in order to get more presence up front,” explained Deschamps. “Ireland were quite deep so we wanted to get Griezmann closer to Giroud and get some speed with Coman out wide and use the width better. But above all to get presence up front because the four attacking players with Dimitri, Antoine, Kinglsey and Giroud created presence up front and we created a lot of chances.”

The switch - and his original decision to play Griezmann in a wider role - will generate intense debate in France as the hosts prepare for their quarter-final against either England or Iceland. Deschamps also whipped off N’Golo Kanté, whose influence was blunted by the yellow card he was issued for a lunging tackle on McClean. Kanté will miss France’s next match.

It may have looked comfortable in the end here, but if Roy Hodgson does get a chance to plot against the hosts, he will note with interest the number of times Ireland got in behind the French back four - with Hugo Lloris twice deflecting crosses which would have been tap-ins for Shane Long. He will note their discomfort in the face of the traditionally English direct game. And he will take it as a stroke of good fortune that Kanté will be absent.

“I don’t gamble with my system,” Deschamps said of his first-half team formation. “I take decisions based on discussions with the players and when they don’t work out it is my fault. Who knows? I made some changes because my substitutes can always contribute something. We freed ourselves up but there were lots of fouls. In the second-half we saw more fluidity compared to the first half.”

Now that that they have reached the quarter-finals, domestic interest and expectation will intensify on France. There is an incredible flow of imagination and skill and speed when the French have space to attack. They are a joy to watch. But they are also going to need deep resilience to cope with the obligation to keep winning.

“We don’t do everything very well,” admitted Deschamps. “I have not seen any team that does everything well. It is a very balanced European championship and the French team, with all of our players. I am not going to try and stop them and slow them down. I wanted to provide stability in defence but I didn’t want to try and stop our attackers, of course not. This team brings emotion to the crowd and makes people fall in love with them. There was a lot of emotion here in Lyon. ”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.