France given reality check by Brazil
PARIS: France suffered a serious reality check in their build-up to Euro 2016 on home soil when Brazil outclassed them in a friendly at the Stade de France on Thursday.
Les Bleus, who were unbeaten since last year’s World Cup quarter-final exit, lost 3-1 after being overwhelmed in the second half by the Brazilians.
Didier Deschamps’s team, who beat Spain, Portugal and Sweden last year, were dominated in midfield in the absence of Paul Pogba and were toothless up front while their fullbacks were tormented by wingers Willian and Oscar.
“It is obviously a blow,” said Deschamps.
France had several chances to level at 2-2 against Brazil but Karim Benzema fluffed one by skying a volley over the bar after being nicely set up by Mathieu Valbuena.
“The quality of our opponent forced us to defend a lot, to make a lot of efforts to win the ball back and we paid for it by lacking clear-sightedness in front of goal,” Deschamps said.
It was the first time in 22 games that France had conceded three goals.
Fullbacks Patrice Evra and Bacary Sagna were regularly outpaced by Willian and Oscar who were both involved in all three goals.
The French defence, however, was let down by the midfield as Pogba’s absence was sorely felt.
The Juventus powerhouse was ruled out with a thigh injury and replacement Moussa Sissoko never settled.
“Without Pogba, France’s passing game was not as smooth as it used to be,” former Brazil defender Ricardo told L’Equipe on Friday.
Deschamps, however, refused to panic, reminding that Brazil had a more immediate objective than France who still have time before the Euro finals on home soil.
“They’ll be in the thick of it (at the Copa Libertadores), while the Euro is in more than a year,” he said.
“We did our best and we did not think we were better than we are. It is obvious that we still need to improve.”
“Starting the year with a defeat is never good but we are not going to throw everything away,” Valbuena said.
France face another test on Sunday when they host Denmark in a friendly in St Etienne. (Reuters)