At the Parc des Princes
Obviously everyone would have appreciated a mess of goals and an Ireland scattered like a puzzle. But once the (slight) disappointment has been digested, let's take a step back. In gatherings where training serves no purpose, other than avoiding injuries, and/or the prospect of missing the start of the Champions League for most French internationals, you also have to know how to be content with essential. The victory, the fifth in as many matches in this Euro 2024 qualifying campaign, and two goals (Tchouaméni and Thuram) which will allow its authors to grow a little more with the blue jersey which is sometimes very heavy to wear. Yes, the vice-world champions purred during the first, harvested in the second, but they never fell into ease or lack of demands.
If on the pitch the Irish didn't show much on Thursday evening at the Parc des Princes, in the stands, it's a completely different story. Already on the outskirts of the Parisian enclosure before the match, the supporters recognizable for their green jerseys and their reddened faces, from the heat... or something else, put on a show while singing happily. Ditto during the match, adding a touch of humor during the second half. The French public was somewhat awakened from their torpor when they heard “Argentina” and “Messi” coming down from the Irish yard. A reference to the World Cup final lost a few months ago in Qatar by the Blues, obviously. Tasty as can be. And not bad for a penny.
A firecracker that was worth a look. Aware that the Irish would put the bus in front of their cages, Didier Deschamps asked his players to hit from distance as much as possible, just to force the visitors to come out. Message received by Aurélien Tchouaméni, author of a brilliant goal in the 19th minute, a beautiful curled and powerful shot from the right from the corner of the penalty area. A little candy at the heart of a fairly boring first period, it must be admitted. “It’s the icing on the cake,” relishes the Real player, regularly criticized by Carlo Ancelotti for his discreet statistics. Which Tchouaméni also had a full match. “I’ve been gaining momentum since the start of the season,” he assures. We saw this Thursday evening on the lawn of the Park...
We were waiting for the 41st goal from Kylian Mbappé, the one which would allow the captain of the Blues to equal Michel Platini. We were treated to... Marcus Thuram's very first achievement in the French team. Certainly, the new Inter player does not have the “show” side of Mbappé or Ousmane Dembélé. But he, called to come on in the 26th minute after Olivier Giroud's injury, scored Thursday evening. A match full of combat, desire and efficiency. "It's a great pride," he exults. And added: “It’s always nice to score in front of your family.” Former international Lilian Thuram was notably in the Parisian stands. “I could have scored a second goal,” acknowledges Marcus Thuram, thinking back to his big opportunity at the end of the game and that header that was too sharp. “He should have scored a second goal,” smiles Dayot Upamecano.
Believe it or not, Kylian Mbappé is human. He can also experience small downturns and evenings where he does not come out wearing the hero's costume. Thursday evening, if he was not unworthy and exerted a constant threat on the Irish defense (involved in both goals), the captain of the Blues lacked precision in the last gesture. As if the engine was running out of gas. After a grueling summer with Paris-SG on a psychological level and a resounding return to competition (5 goals in 3 matches), the Parisian also has the right to miss his matches. Often in such a situation, it flares up during the next one. The Germans have been warned.
Certainly, the Irish coach does not have the same reservoir as Didier Deschamps. From there to imagine such a limited tactic... With a French goal early in the game (19th), we could have imagined the visitors coming out of their shell. Missed. They continued to squat in their own half of the field, hoping for a counter... which never came. It was only after the second French goal (48th) that the Irish started to play. Mike Maignan also produced a high-class parade a few minutes later (52nd). Ireland might have taken a dance by opening the game more, but they might also have had a chance to take a small point, or even better with a lot of success. There, there was no risk... Small arms.