France reached a back-to-back FIFA World Cup final in Qatar despite a massive injury crisis before they began their trophy defense. Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, World Cup-winning midfield duo Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, as well as Paris Saint-Germain’s Presnel Kimpembe were left out of the tournament, among many more.

Despite having their squad severely weakened, France had the depth to call up quality players in their place, and has perhaps shown that system and structure trumps quality of personnel in soccer tournaments.

Ultimately, they were defeated on penalties in a chaotic match against Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the final, which eliminated the Netherlands and Croatia in earlier rounds. France itself dispatched England before ending Morocco’s good moment. It was a tournament that allowed many new talents to show off their skills in the absence of others. Some players even managed to return to levels that they had not shown for many years before. Antoine Griezmann was a key example of the latter and now hopes to translate his form into his team’s performances. Atlético have had a bad start in La Liga and are already out of the title race. In sports betting in Canada, they remain favorites to secure a top-four finish offered at 2/5 to finish in the UEFA Champions League places, but Athletic Club Bilbao are firmly in the mix. Griezmann’s national team form could make all the difference in ensuring UCL football returns to the Wanda Metropolitano next season.

In terms of his own attacking assets, Olivier Giroud has been in incredible form and has been crucial to France’s progress, which is ironic considering the injured Benzema would likely have taken his place had he been fit. The AC Milan striker scored the winner against England and is essential to Didier Deschamps’ system, occupying defenders, creating space for wing players as well as Antoine Griezmann in attacking midfield.

As for compensating for the absence of his midfielder pivot in the last World Cup in Russia. Adrian Rabiot has stepped up and started to show the potential that was seen in him as a young player. Raphael Varane has led the defense alongside his 2018 teammate, Samuel Umtiti, having retired in recent years after being hurt by the injuries that led him to leave FC Barcelona. Kimpembe’s absence has been more than made up for by the excellent form of France’s young defenders. The PSG star is in for a tough task when he returns from injury in terms of reclaiming his job. Deschamps has rotated his starting XI frequently and it’s unclear what his preferred lineup is, but it’s clear he has faith in his entire team.

In the absence of so many influential players, France have needed some of their remaining experienced players to step up. Griezmann specifically has shown a resurgence to be the player he once was. He has been a constant presence across the pitch for his nation, regularly winning the ball upfield. In possession, he has been incredibly resistant to pressure, allowing France to keep the pressure on high up the pitch, as seen against England in the quarter-finals, which contributed to the goals. The highlight of Griezmann’s World Cup so far was his terrific assist for Giroud to send the Three Lions home in what was an intense affair that could have gone either way.

The fact that France finished runners-up with a team made up of many second or even third choice players is indicative of the level of talent that the French national group possesses. The national team is not dependent on a single superstar, it has an endless list of top quality stars ready to step up when others are out of shape. Les Bleus may not have had back-to-back World Cup victories in Qatar, but penalties are a lottery and French football is still on the rise.

#FeaturedPost #FeatureByICSDigitalContent