A thoroughly professional performance earned France a place in the World Cup semi-finals as they beat Uruguay 2-0.
Raphael Varane headed in the opener five minutes before half-time from Antoine Griezmann’s free-kick before the Atletico Madrid star added a second in the 61st minute when Fernando Muslera flapped at his effort from range.
Here’s a look at how they gained the tactical edge over their opponents.
Goals – 2
Shots – 11
Possession – 62%
Tackles – 18
Dribbles – 13
The game got off to a surprisingly lively start but France were well equipped to deal with Uruguay’s attack, which was missing Edinson Cavani through injury. Deschamps’ side gradually took control of possession and the game.
With Luis Suarez dropping deep to receive the ball and Uruguay operating in a diamond midfield, France had little to deal with in terms of runners in behind. Les Bleus weren’t too adventurous themselves, trusting their forwards to hit the back of the net, making things increasingly comfortable at the back.
TACTICAL TALKING POINT
Deschamps has received plenty of criticism for some of the systems he’s deployed, including France’s 4-2-3-1 formation that was used again on Friday. To his credit though, he seems to have made a few tweaks that’s encouraged a bit more fluidity.
Despite Blaise Matuidi’s absence, Deschamps was determined to stick with the system and used Corentin Tolisso in his stead. The midfielder played on the left but often tucked in alongside N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba.
The set-up not only made them more formidable in the middle of the park but also allowed the Manchester United player to venture forward and link-up with the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Griezmann.
Gareth Southgate has never been this popular and his stock will only rise if he takes England to the semi-finals. Deschamps has guided France to the final four, but you sense that’s only made him more tolerable. His team didn’t thrill against Uruguay, but there was a distinct upgrade in cohesion. It’s not pretty, but ever so efficient.
Rating – 6/10
Les Bleus put in a professional performance to reach the last four for the first time since 2006.
Here’s a look at how the players rated.
Hugo Lloris 9 – An assured presence throughout and pulled off a stunning save to preserve France’s lead at 1-0.
Benjamin Pavard 7 – Didn’t make as spectacular an intervention as he had against Argentina, but Pavard still enhanced his reputation with a solid defensive display.
Raphael Varane 8 – A superb run and header for France’s opener, and a stable presence in Les Bleus’ back line.
Lucas Hernandez 7 – There was plenty of pre-match talk about Atletico Madrid defenders, and one did shine – Hernandez outplayed club-mates Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez.
Paul Pogba 8 – Ran the show for France as he continued to show that he can play in a midfield two, contrary to popular belief.
N’Golo Kante 8 – As industrious, energetic, and unassuming as ever. Kante provided the perfect foil to Pogba and helped his defence weather a few Uruguay storms.
Kylian Mbappe 7 – Uruguay didn’t give him the chance to show off his famous pace, so he brought his other qualities to the fore in a skillful, trickery filled display that wound up the opposition.
Antoine Griezmann 8 – Fortunate with his goal, but was a menacing presence throughout, and his free-kick delivery for Varane’s goal was inch-perfect.
Corentin Tolisso 7 – The Bayern Munich man made sure banned Blaise Matuidi wasn’t missed on the left of France’s midfield, although whether he retains a starting place remains to be seen.
Olivier Giroud 7 – Giroud is still looking for his first goal at this World Cup, but his impact as a focal point for France’s attack is immeasurable – as it was again on Friday.
Steven N’zonzi N/A – Came on for Tolisso to help France kill the game as they sat on a 2-0 lead.
Ousmane Dembele N/A – His introduction for Mbappe was one of the most expensive substitutions ever, going by the two players’ respective transfer fees. But Dembele had little time to make an impact.
Nabil Fekir N/A – Came on right at the end for the impressive Griezmann, with no chance to do anything of note.
Antoine Griezmann’s pinpoint free-kick was glanced in by Raphael Varane midway through the first half as France took the lead.
Atletico Madrid forward Griezmann then scored a second early in the second half but La Celeste stopper Fernando Muslera hung his head in shame as he allowed Griezmann’s tame effort to slip through his grasp.
That sucked the life out of the South Americans, who were unable to find a way back into the game, as Les Bleus held on.