“It’s the same song”, resumed Claude François in 1971. The artist of variety was only taking again an American tube «It’s the Same Old Song» released a few years earlier but it is obviously a success, to such an extent that it will exceed the popularity of the original work, in France at least. It tells a once happy love story that ends in pain. We have to believe that almost every year, the France Espoirs team pays tribute to this song since at each meeting, it presents itself with its young cracks before disappointing. Once again, she was deluded. Cited among the favorites of the Euro, it was shattered yesterday in the quarterfinals against the Netherlands in the last minutes (2-1). A cruel end but as always, she looked for it a bit.
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Manhandled and surprised by the physical impact of the opponent during the first period, the Bleuets paradoxically returned to the locker room with a one-goal advantage. Upamecano jumped higher than everyone else to open the scoring from a corner. In the second half, we experienced a bit of the opposite scenario. The young Oranje quickly equalized, Boadu taking advantage of a strike from Harraoui and the misalignment of Maouassa to win his duel with Meslier. It was then that the French machine finally got under way, after almost an hour of play … Well helped by the consistency of its sidelines too (Caqueret, Faivre and Gouiri came into play), it took the lead. playing on his own, taking all the risks, sometimes too much since there were some scares between his many opportunities.
Strong individualities, a failing collective
Despite strikes from Maouassa and Tchouaméni, a post from Ikoné, two big situations for Aouar and a last attempt from Faivre, the Bleuets failed to score this second goal before the end of regulation time. Worse still, this quarter-final took on the air of France-Bulgaria 1993 when on his only revival, Dutch goalkeeper Bijlow eliminated six Frenchmen, sending Boadu to the Grail of qualification at the end of the chain. “It’s bound to be a huge disappointment. Football is sometimes paradoxical. We did not have a good first period, where we lacked control, and we were still ahead in the score. On the contrary, I think our second half was very consistent. We corrected things, we pushed back this Dutch team, we created three, four huge scoring chances, and paradoxically, we took two goals in this period when the balance of power was clearly in our favor.”
Sylvain Ripoll can harbor deep regrets, he who therefore does less well than the semi-final of Euro 2019. However, he had a team that was even better supplied both in terms of quality and quantity. Despite the absences of Reine-Adélaïde and Guendouzi, the two captains, or even of Truffert, Claude-Maurice, Wesley Fofana, the coach even allowed himself to leave Youssouf Fofana and Camavinga on the bench. A luxury that even some A selections cannot afford. Only, as previous generations have already shown, a sum of individuals does not form an effective collective. Some players have also failed, such as Maouassa, responsible for both goals, or Soumaré very inconstant. Edouard did not weigh on the meeting, while Aouar, supposed to be the technical leader of this team, woke up much too late.
The Olympics in the spotlight
“We take the second in the 93rd on something improbable when we thought they were failing. It is regrettable. The verdict fell on the wrong side for us. We probably did not do what was necessary to go further. We had the situations and the ammunition to win this match, we didn’t. The reality is there. Whenever there is a competition, there are lessons to be learned, one way or the other. We will think with a rested head. Building the best performing group for the Olympics will be the subject of reflection in the days to come. But already, we will have to digest. It’s difficult to lose this match in these conditions ”, regretted the coach last night after this new failure, which now looks to Tokyo.
It will be a question of learning the lessons of this defeat to go for an Olympic medal in August. France has the means, as it had the means to win this Euro, and above all to beat a team from the Netherlands, frankly not flamboyant but courageous. Of course, not everything is thrown away for this generation. She at least qualified for the Euro, like the one above, which had validated this first ticket for the Olympics since 1996, thus correcting the countless failures between 2007 and 2017 (6 Euro missed in a row). Nevertheless, this defeat is a tireless reminder that the Bleuets are always so unpredictable. They disappoint too often. The expanded list for the Under 23 Olympics and three jokers (born before 1997) could allow Ripoll and his staff to rely on new, more experienced elements such as Gignac, Bernardoni, Terrier or Bamba to correct the situation. and make sure it isn’t always that same disappointing chorus.