The France defence is Didier Deschamps’ nightmare at Euro 2016. Whilst he has one of the world’s best goalkeepers and one of the Premier League’s best centre-backs, the remaining three defenders look shaky and incompetent. This is the one factor that could bring their European glory pursuit to an anticlimactic end.
Les Bleus have made it into the quarter-final of Euro 2016 after a 2-1 victory over the Republic Of Ireland. A clumsy, needless conceded penalty threatened to undermine their progress, but after a brace from Antoine Griezmann they finished the superior team. There were some shaky moments in the France defence, especially at set pieces.
France Defence is Key Weakness
Hugo Lloris deserves a much better back four than what he has. He is keeping his team firmly in the tournament with his sweeping, reaction saves and brilliant athleticism. Nevertheless, the France defence has only been conceding 0.5 goals a game so far. However, the defence is displaying many weaknesses that need ironing out if Les Bleus are to progress to the final.
Deschamps’ selection of Rami is by necessity, not credit. Whilst he has not been making major bloopers, he is looking uncomfortable beside Laurent Koscielny. With better opposition coming, he may become more exposed. His passing is often sloppy and he is lacking pace. Instead of matching Shane Long stride for stride, he was lucky to stay on the pitch after wiping him out. By picking up a yellow card he is now suspended for the next match, which will allow Samuel Umtiti or Eliaquim Mangala to step in.
In this shaky France defence, Koscielny is easily the most competent on the ground and in the air. Crucially, he is covering for any mistake that his fellow defenders are making. Now he faces a new partner and must be commanding to the two relatively younger centre-backs competing for Rami’s spot. He definitely has the experience for this role and is able to marshal the best strikers in Europe.
Playing in the Premier League gives him good knowledge on England’s team if they beat Iceland, where he may be facing the likes of Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge. Deschamps is depending on him to hold his patchwork back four together.
The French full-backs are declining in their careers and are looking shaky in defence. Bacary Sagna (33 years of age) has been getting forward where possible, delivering a fine ball for Griezmann’s first goal, but his defensive capabilities aren’t impressing. Against Switzerland, he pulled down Blerim Dzemaili in the box in the final minutes, nearly compromising their hard-earned point. It’s imperative that he steps up his performances when faced with more potent wingers.
Patrice Evra is the oldest defender at 35 years of age, suggesting experience. As a result, he hasn’t had a bad tournament so far. It’s not surprising that his play isn’t as good as it used to be, as he is past his peak. His once lung-busting runs up and down the pitch are being replaced by a much more cautious probing. Where pace was one of his strengths, players with any kind of pace are now giving him trouble. Deschamps does have other full-backs in the squad, including young PSG left-back Lucas Digne, providing more energy and speed when required.