Discover the 10 matches that shaped the France team under the Didier Deschamps era, who is celebrating a decade of coaching at the head of the Blues.
Ukraine, Germany, Croatia… So many adversaries who have contributed to writing the history, for better or for worse, of the French team for ten years. On July 8, 2012, Didier Deschamps was given the keys to the blue locker room. A decade later, the Bayonnais went through all the emotions. There were disappointments, euphoria. Tactical shots too. And, more generally, an extremely rare longevity in this profession. Unheard of in the history of the Blues. Le Figaro has selected for you the 10 most emblematic matches of the Deschamps era.
1 – France-Uruguay, the first evening (August 2012)
First times are often forgettable. No exception here. On August 15, 2012, Didier Deschamps inaugurated his role as coach of the France team, he who was the captain during the coronations of the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. At the Océane stadium in Le Havre, in front of nearly 25,000 spectators, the Blues deliver a poor performance against Uruguay. Score zero and goalless, 0-0. The attacking duo, composed of Karim Benzema and… Olivier Giroud, supported by Mathieu Valbuena and Franck Ribéry, offers nothing. The next match, a victory in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers in Finland (0-2), will already be more memorable.
2 – France-Ukraine, the starting point (November 2013)
When Deschamps takes the reins, the France team has lost the link with its public, traumatized by the fiasco of Knysna at the 2010 World Cup. This link, it will sew it up in Saint-Denis, November 19, 2013. Carried by an improbable double from Mamadou Sakho, it overthrew Ukraine in the second leg of the 2014 World Cup (3-0), after their defeat four days earlier in kyiv. This game”marked the memory of the French supporters and those who were present that day, estimated goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris in 2019. I always believe that there is a starting point in a story. This is the beginning of the adventure at the 2014 World Cup, Euro 2016 and the World Cup in Russia.»
3 – France-Germany, apprenticeship (July 2014)
After the euphoria against Ukraine, the Blues continue their momentum. At the Brazilian World Cup, they hit hard from the start of the group stage (victories against Honduras 3-0 and against Switzerland 5-2). They dismiss Nigeria not without difficulty in the round of 16 (2-0). Then stands the future world champion, Germany. Too tender, the men of Deschamps are tamed. The Mannschaft goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, pulls out all the stops. The adventure ends in the quarter-finals. Antoine Griezmann, 23 years old and 9 selections at the time, does not hold back his tears. France is learning.
4 – France-Germany, the tragedy (November 2015)
Friendly match at the Stade de France. The Blues pay world champion Germany, thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud and André-Pierre Gignac (2-0). Derisory facts of the game in the face of the reality that the country endured that evening. A series of attacks took place in Paris, including around the stadium, in the middle of a match. There will be more than 400 injured and nearly 130 dead. Many supporters will wait on the lawn until 1 a.m. before being evacuated from the stadium. Four years later, Didier Deschamps confided to remain marked by this tragic evening: “We cannot forget.»
5 – France-Ireland, the seesaw (June 2016)
France made a sluggish entry into “its” Euro. It only beat Romania (2-1) and Albania (2-0) at the very end of the match in the group stage. In the eighth, it is led throughout the first period by Ireland. At half-time, Deschamps reviews his formula: he goes from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1. This involves moving Antoine Griezmann from the right side of the attack to the centre. “I don’t want to suck it up, but the coach changed the game by putting Antoine as the second striker“, will recognize André-Pierre Gignac. The Blues win 2-1 with a double from “Grizou” and will remain faithful to this 4-2-3-1, until the world title in Russia.
6 – France-Portugal, disillusionment (July 2016)
The planets seemed aligned. France, at home, beat world champion Germany in the semi-finals (2-0). She had not played extra time when Portugal, another finalist, had experienced two. Portugal, which has always had the Blues as a pet peeve (Euro 1984, Euro 2000, World Cup 2006). To bury the Lusitanian hopes, Cristiano Ronaldo comes out injured after 25 minutes. And yet…”The final of two years ago is still not digested“, growled Didier Deschamps shortly before that of the 2018 World Cup. The post of Gignac in extra time, the parades of Rui Patricio and, above all, the goal of the unlikely hero, Eder: France is stunned. For some (Koscielny, Sagna, Payet, Gignac…) and for the tens of thousands of supporters at the Stade de France, the pain remains. For others, it’s a new founding step to climb Everest.
7 – France-Croatia, the apogee (July 2018)
“As beautiful, as strong» that in 1998, will savor Didier Deschamps. But a little harder. This World Cup final will be the most prolific (and incredible) since 1966. After opening the scoring in the 18e minute, France collects the equalizer in the 28the… and regains the lead in the 38the (Griezmann on penalty). It flies away shortly after the hour mark thanks to Pogba then Mbappé, just before a ball from Lloris (69e) which gives hope to Croatia. But these Blues no longer crack. The score remains there (4-2) and the torrential rain, in Moscow, sprinkles the euphoria of the French. “We have come a long way, it has not always been easy, but through hard work, we are there. It’s the crowning glory“, is moved Deschamps, captain in 1998. What cement him as one of the greatest gentlemen of French sport.
8 – Turkey-France, the task (June 2019)
France knew it: this trip to Turkey was THE perilous match of the Euro 2020 qualifiers. But this match, only one team played it. “Febrile», «apathetic», «outdated“: these are the adjectives that Le Figaro used to describe the defeat of the Blues in Konya (2-0). Without sounding the alarm bell, Antoine Griezmann invited to “work tactically, work the basics offensively and defensively and come back stronger“. And thus reject the hangover of the 2018 World Cup. To make matters worse, the Marseillaise had been copiously whistled before the meeting, against a backdrop of political tension between the two countries. The President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, had judged these whistles “unacceptable“. The Turkish Football Federation had apologized.
9 – France-Switzerland, the big hiccup (June 2021)
A workforce cut for the title, reinforced by the return of Karim Benzema. France gained confidence with two 3-0 friendly victories, before their Euro 2020 delayed by a year. She extricated herself not without difficulty from the group of death (Germany, Portugal, Hungary). Then it fell apart in the round of 16, against a Switzerland who did not claim to bring the world champions to heel. In an unprecedented 3-5-2, the fault of its two injured left-backs, France found themselves behind at half-time (0-1). She pulled herself together to lead 3-1 with 10 minutes remaining. Before collapsing, physically and mentally (3-3). Kylian Mbappé missed the last shot on goal of the session and threw a chill on the Blues. Later, the future of Didier Deschamps will be questioned. The end of an era?
10 – Spain-France, the heart of the champion (October 2021)
We could have chosen the previous match, as they go hand in hand. The Euro ended not three months ago. France is facing Belgium in the semi-finals of the League of Nations. At halftime, the Blues trailed 2-0. There is no debate. The players “are slaughtered“, will recognize later Didier Deschamps. The 15-minute break, during which Paul Pogba says he “felt an energy that I can’t explainwill change everything. France overthrows Belgium and wins 3-2. Three days later, it is also led by Spain in the final but reacts quickly. And win a new trophy. A success marked by the imprint of Karim Benzema, scorer in each match and definitively readopted by France.