Special correspondent in Dortmund The statistics are there and bear witness to an implacable reality. In the last three matches (Croatia, Austria and Tunisia) where Kylian Mbappé did not start, the France team has not won any. Tuesday evening, with the defeat against a sick but proud Germany (2-1), the figure rose to four, since the usual captain of the Blues remained cool on the bench, spared by his coach. In selection as in club, there is life with or without him. In the rain in Dortmund, the Blues sometimes drowned and above all conceded their first defeat in 2023. Confirmation that the road to the Euro still remains long for the very pale and tasteless French.
Everything started badly and ended this evening for the vice-world champions on the magnificent lawn of a Westfalenstadion far from having been full, symbol of a palpable disenchantment between the selection and its public. In a hostile atmosphere despite everything, facing a Mannschaft eager to show another face after three defeats in a row, the last of which against Japan (1-4), the B team of the Blues (6 changes compared to last Thursday against Ireland, change to 4-4-2) simply took on water.
Faced with the German waves, with an untenable Gnabry-Wirtz-Sané trio, the French only suffered, in a far too lax manner. To drink with the opening score of the stainless Thomas Müller in the 4th minute of play (1-0), after a great action of eleven consecutive passes. A sign of a catastrophic start for Deschamps' men, conceding a goal so early had not happened to them since... the round of 16 of Euro 2016 against Ireland. An eternity.
These friendly meetings also serve this purpose: to make mistakes, to learn and to get back up, like the difficulties encountered for the Saliba-Todibo experimental hinge. New proof that national football is still a step above the biggest foreign championships in terms of pressure, expectation and level. Where sometimes, the French team jersey can seem to weigh a ton.
Also highly anticipated, in a starting role (5th time in 10 selections) after his eventful summer and the late transfer to Paris-SG, Randal Kolo Muani will not have scored a point in the fight he is waging with Giroud and Thuram. Deliberate but clumsy, he should have collected a penalty after a push from Rüdiger (20th), but his copy remains far too timid. “When players have opportunities, you have to know how to seize them,” “DD” likes to remind us. The neo-Parisian, replaced by Thuram (65th), will have missed his evening. Dependent contrast.
Paradoxically, apart from the nightmarish first quarter of an hour with the rain as a surprise guest on the Ruhr side, the Blues found color as the water flowed while the Germans of Rüdi Völler, firefighter on duty after the dismissal of 'Hansi Flick, have continued to decline, without breaking up. But apart from a header (38th) and a strike from Tchouaméni (56th) then an attempted roll-up from Griezmann (82nd), all stopped by a solid Ter Stegen, the French lacked sharpness, variety in the game and change of pace to destabilize a Mannschaft far from serene.
But at the end of the match, Sané, helped by the errors of Todibo and Saliba, increased the score (2-0, 87th), before Griezmann, from the penalty spot (2-1, 89th) reduced the score. This Dortmund evening will still have delivered its lessons. Nine months before its Euro, Germany could not dream of a better burst of pride to initiate a reconciliation with its public, while the Blues, orphans of Mbappé and with too many individualities not at the level (Pavard, Todibo, Saliba, Camavinga, Rabiot, Kolo Muani), were scathingly called to order. A defeat to ponder before challenging the Netherlands on October 13.