France 2-0 Albania...things we learned

France 2-0 Albania...things we learned

France 2-0 Albania...things we learned

Should the final minutes of a game now be dubbed 'Deschamps time'? France team reporter David Crossan details the key points of Wednesday's win against Albania.

Belief begets late rallies

Much more of this and the dying minutes will be dubbed 'Deschamps time'. Just as against Romania, Les Bleus showed strength of character to pull off a victory, displaying admirable composure when the tension and pressure of the situation could have got the better of them. It is a happy knack to have, and mentally will be of service to France throughout the competition. As defender Adil Rami told EURO2016.com: "We never gave up, believing right to the death."

Systems and substitutes

France looked infinitely more comfortable after the interval in Marseille when they switched from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3. Last Friday against Romania, it had been the reverse alteration in the final quarter and the impact of fresh legs that had propelled France to three points. The 4-3-3 is Didier Deschamps' most-used system since taking charge in 2012 and Wednesday's evidence suggests it's the one the players feel most comfortable with, while Kingsley Coman and Anthony Martial's pace are best suited to taking on tiring defences late in games.

Tough love

How many coaches would dare to relegate their two star players to the bench? Deschamps admitted post-match that neither Paul Pogba nor Antoine Griezmann were happy to be named among the substitutes. The demotion was always likely to be temporary, even more so after their match-turning cameos against Albania. Griezmann's headed goal was France's first attempt on target. The stats indicate he's a "super sub" as he has netted six international goals in ten appearances off the bench. In contrast, the Atlético forward has only two goals from 19 France starts and needs to start chipping in with strikes when deployed from the off.

Rami rules

Sevilla defender Rami is one of the unlikely success stories of the tournament. Having not featured for France since 2013, the UEFA Europa League winner went public with his disappointment at not making the initial cut for these finals, only to get his opportunity when Deschamps summoned a replacement for the injured Raphaël Varane. Not only has Rami been part of a back line that has kept two clean sheets in three internationals, he also conjured an unlikely assist for Griezmann's goal. The statisticians tell me it was the first time the powerful centre-half had attempted a cross in his 29 outings.

The Stade Vélodrome never forgets

After trophy-laden spells as a Marseille player and coach, Deschamps was always going to get a special reception, and so it proved. Dimitri Payet and André-Pierre Gignac, other former Vélodrome heroes, revelled in the same acclaim, and it was fitting that Payet's second goal in as many UEFA EURO 2016 games capped off the night. France triumphed in Marseille on their way to winning EURO '84 and the 1998 FIFA World Cup as hosts, and should the victories keep coming then Les Bleus will return to the Mediterranean city on 7 July for the semi-finals.
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