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France 4-2 Croatia: 5 Talking Points as Vatreni suffer from World Cup deja vu against Les Bleus | UEFA Nations League 2020/21

France put in a clinical display against Croatia
France put in a clinical display against Croatia
Sai Teja
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Modified 09 Sep 2020, 05:14 IST
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FIFA World Cup 2018 finalists France and Croatia faced off for the first time since their encounter in Russia as they battled in the UEFA Nations League 2020/21.

The visitors were the better side in the first half of the game and got an early lead via a stunning Dejan Lovren goal. The Croat's superb strike from a tight angle in the 17th minute helped his side assert their dominance on Didier Deschamps' men, and they continued to play some excellent football in the first 45 minutes.

The game quickly turned on its head after a piece of brilliant play involving Ferland Mendy, Wissam Ben Yedder, and a returning Anthony Martial helped France restore parity. Martial found an unmarked Antoine Griezmann in the six-yard box, giving the Barcelona man an easy tap-in from close range.

Josip Brekalo came off the bench in the second half and set the game alight with a superb finish to give Zlatko Dalic's men the equaliser. However, that didn't last too long as Dayot Upamecano resisted his marker, Lovren, to head France into the lead from a Griezmann corner.

Substitute Olivier Giroud came on for his 99th France cap and converted a spot-kick to make it 4-2 β€” the exact scoreline by which Les Bleus won the World Cup final.

Here, we take a look at the major talking points from France's second win in two games in the Nations League.


#5 Croatia's old guard paves way for the future

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Croatian veterans and World Cup 2018 stars Modric and Rakitic did not feature against France
Croatian veterans and World Cup 2018 stars Modric and Rakitic did not feature against France

Both France and Croatia were forced to ring in the changes for this clash. While the hosts have an endless list of talents to call upon, the visitors' youngsters gave Zlatko Dalic a glimpse into Croatia's future.

In the absence of several key players, the Vatreni blooded a relatively young side to face the world champions. In fact, Croatia's age average of their starting XI at the Stade de France was at 27, a notably lower figure than the side they fielded in their previous encounter with France.

Nikola Vlasic, for instance, had a tidy game in midfield as he won the ball back, hit the woodwork, and was effective while keeping things simple.

Wolfsburg attacker Josip Brekalo also left an excellent account of himself against the champions. Just ten minutes after coming on, he latched onto Mateo Kovacic's piercing ball with an arrowing diagonal run, kept hold of the ball amidst pressure from the onrushing Frenchmen and slotted home the equaliser.

Both 22-year-olds made just their eleventh appearance for the Vatreni and were positive in their approach to the game, showing Dalic that there is still hope after the eventual retirement of his old guard.Β 


#4 France's strength in depth on full display

France have a wide pool of talented players to pick and choose from
France have a wide pool of talented players to pick and choose from

In their first Nations League 2020/21 encounter, France scraped their way through to a tight 1-0 win against Sweden. However, due to workload management as well as unavailability of players due to COVID-19, Didier Deschamps had to field lineups for both games that were almost entirely different from one another.

From the XI that started the game at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, skipper Hugo Lloris, Dayot Upamecano, N'Golo Kante, and Antoine Griezmann were the only players who made it to the XI against Croatia. Deschamps rang in changes aplenty, fielding several different players on the night at the Stade de France.

Regardless of these changes, one thing that stood out in particular was the depth that France have at their disposal. Even though there were seven new players drafted into the side, the world champions had the likes of Martial, Clement Lenglet, Lucas Hernandez, and a host of established stars to call upon.

Rennes wonderkid Eduardo Camavinga made his debut with a brief cameo and impressed profoundly with his display, showing Descamps that he has another valuable option to call upon.

Les Blues ultimately won by a relatively comfortable scoreline, but the amount of experience and quality available to Deschamps to pick and choose from is nothing short of sublime.


Also read: 5 Currently active players with most assists in Europe


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Published 09 Sep 2020, 04:11 IST
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