Soccer. World Cup 2022: what has changed for the Blues since 2018


Less strong on set pieces, more precise in crosses

In Russia, four years ago, the French team had scored 14 goals in seven games, including two from penalties, but above all three after corners or set pieces, one of the strengths of Didier Deschamps’ team in 2018. For this World Cup in Qatar, the French are absent in this area and none of the eleven goals scored were in this sector of play. The Blues have however developed other capacities, in particular in this propensity to use the sides and cross better, as the only example of the opening match against Australia with three goals scored after crosses from outside the box. The three achievements of Olivier Giroud in this World Cup, which remained silent in Russia, corroborate this trend. The France team, which however leaves the impression of being less solid defensively, is therefore more unpredictable in the game in Qatar than in Russia, where it tended to concentrate its attacks in the axis.

A more experienced workforce

In 2018, the squad made up of the 23 players called up by Didier Deschamps reached an average age of 25.56. He is in Qatar, with 24 elements, not counting Lucas Hernandez, left injured after the first match, nor Karim Benzema, who withdrew before the start of the competition, 26.25 years old. The eleven holder of Didier Deschamps in this World even reaches the average of 27.36 years, for a very experienced team. A group made up of players experienced in international matches who have learned from victories (World Cup in 2018), but above all from failures (lost final of Euro 2016 and premature elimination from Euro 2020 against Switzerland). A certain know-how of the major international competitions which allowed the Blues to get rid of gifted and incisive Englishmen, last Saturday, in the quarter-finals (2-1).

A stronger Kylian Mbappé

In 2018, Kylian Mbappé had hatched in the eyes of the world when he was only 19 years old, scorer four times, passer once. Four years later, the PSG star striker has already scored five goals before the semi-finals and delivered two assists. From young best hope of the Tournament, Mbappé is cut to be the untouchable, this year. He turned into the one who turns heads, the most decisive player in the Qatari world, all selections combined. Stronger, more powerful, more skilful, the French star, the X factor of the Blues, frightens opposing defenders and continues to impress, obsessed with a second World Cup title and the hunt for personal records.

A less competitive bench

With more than half of the team on the floor (Maignan, Kimpembe, Kanté, Pogba, Nkunku, Benzema) and an injured holder after ten minutes of the World Cup who had to leave Qatar prematurely (Lucas Hernandez), the possibilities for Didier Deschamps to have convincing rotations are reduced, unlike 2018. The third meeting of the group stage saw the substitutes, also not in the best dispositions, miss out in large proportions. It would be very surprising to see the light come from the bench on this end of competition.

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