The France team ran out of air against Luka Modric’s Croatia and its hostile public, Monday in the sweltering heat of Split (1-1), resting all its executives but chaining a second meeting without victory in the League of Nations. Without Kylian Mbappé, Karim Benzema or their captain Hugo Lloris, all sitting on a bench of five-star substitutes, the Blues thought they were performing the perfect operation after Adrien Rabiot’s opener (52nd).
Imperial Maignan in its cages
But a penalty conceded by Jonathan Clauss and converted by Andrej Kramaric (83rd) sent them back to their uncertainties, three days after the defeat against Denmark (2-1), already conceded after errors at the end of the match. And without the masterful parades of Mike Maignan (71st, 87th), the men of Didier Deschamps would have left the Balkans with a zero point.
With one point in two games, France nevertheless very simply complicates the task with a view to qualifying for the “Final 4”. He will have to react Friday in Austria, before welcoming the Croats on June 13 for the return leg.
A massive turnover
In Vienna on Friday, the atmosphere may not be as overheated as that of the Poljud stadium, the open-air lair of Hajduk Split, housed between the Mosor massif and the Adriatic Sea. This setting, unprecedented for France, gave ideas to coach Didier Deschamps, eager to “raise his head” as well as to keep the organisms strained by the heat and a harassing season.
At kick-off, he only sent two world champions, Benjamin Pavard and Presnel Kimpembe, and only one survivor of the defeat against the Danes, Aurélien Tchouaméni. Mbappé, still embarrassed on one knee, did not even warm up.
A system change
Even the tireless Antoine Griezmann was spared at kick-off, a first in 22 matches, before coming into play for the last half hour.
But after eight games in a row in 3-5-2, the most unexpected adjustment concerned the tactical scheme, with the return of the system of the World Cup-2018 final: seven defensive players and a four-man defense.