The starting XI:
Martial and Coman replaced Griezmann and Pogba in the starting eleven, but did this bode well?
France was all over Albania from the get-go with Giroud missing from close range after a delicious Payet free kick in the early stages. It was one of those nights for Giroud, who went on to miss several shots that could’ve seen him bag four goals by the end of the game. But it won’t matter because Griezmann and Payet proved to be the heroes on this frustrating evening as Les Bleus went on to beat Albania 2-0 to claim the first spot in the round of 16.
Although we’re through to the round of 16, I was not impressed with our display last evening. We fought hard to win the game and I think it is absolutely ridiculous to call it lucky. We weren’t lucky. We didn’t produce goals out of nothing. We worked for them. We had 8 goals on target compared to Albania’s 3 and 11 off-target compared to Albania’s 4.
I know we struggled at some point, but it’s not like we weren’t making an effort to win the game. In the first half, the team was sometimes sluggish, but in the second half, they were much better. Whatever Deschamps told them at half-time definitely worked. And he’ll know what to tell them given that he captained France to tournament victories at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.
As for Deschamps leaving Griezmann and Pogba on the bench, I think it was a good decision as it got them all fired up. Griezmann especially. He almost always seems to score whenever he comes off the bench. However, Deschamps need to nail it. Experimentation time is gone. This is the real thing and we need to win early, not late.
Pogba slipped a lot though! 😛
Griezmann calms worries in the 89th minute. It was Adil Rami’s first ever attempted cross and Antoine got on the end of it and showed ’em who was the boss.
Payet put them to bed a few minutes later during additional stoppage time after Paul Pogba delivered a diagonal pass to Gignac, who slipped on the left, but the ball managed to find Payet.
A few stats:
^ This was the 5th meeting between France and Albania and Patrice Evra’s 75th cap.
^ Payet was Man of the Match for the second time again
ALLEZ LES BLEUS!!