International Friendlies: France 3-1 Italy, 5 Talking Points
France amped up the preparations for the World Cup with an emphatic 3-1 win over Italy in Nice. Samuel Umtiti, Antoine Griezmann and an Ousmane Dembele stunner wrapped up a comprehensive victory, while Leonardo Bonucci’s goal for the Azzurri was a mere consolation.
Though the stakes were minimal, both sides fought tooth and nail, making a vibrant start to the game with an attacking intent. The opening half was lively and full of gilt-edged chances, while the second one started on a positive note too, as Italy flew out of the blocks in search of an equaliser.
The match deteriorated into mediocrity in the final 10 minutes, as a barrage of substitutions from either camp took the intensity off it. But both teams would be happy with their performances, having achieved their respective objectives.
There’s plenty to discuss here, but let’s zero in on the 5 major talking points from an exciting encounter:
#1 An international friendly that was anything but
France and Italy traversed different routes since the conclusion of the Euro 2016. But when they met at the Allianz Riviera, the European rivals appeared to be level on terms.
Whilst Les Blues bolstered their preparations for the World Cup with another encouraging win, the Azzurri showed positive signs on their road to recovery. Both teams played to the gallery, especially in a vibrant opening 45 minutes, when it seemed more like a Euro Cup match than an international friendly.
France raced to a 2-0 lead within the opening half an hour, but Italy staged a comeback shortly after Griezmann’s penalty, halving the deficit. Roberto Mancini’s men then upped the ante just seconds into the second-half, though the Blues only increased their cushion against the tide.
There were a total of 27 attempts made, 12 of which were on target - 6 each by both. France clearly had their sights on the World Cup, while Italy are successfully coming into their stride under Mancini. And together, today, they produced a footballing spectacle to remember