Georgia vs. France: 6 Things We Learned
Despite all of the positives for France in their current situation in terms of talent, the qualifying table for Group I does not lie at present.
Lagging behind Spain in second place was expected, but Les Bleus have been wretched so far, and their hopes of reaching Brazil took a further dent with a goalless draw in Georgia.
For the first time in their history, France have failed to score in five consecutive matches.
Not only is Karim Benzema looking apathetic in front of goal, the whole team are at present and now what was a remote fear of not reaching Brazil next year is a genuine concern.
Here are six things we learned from Georgia 0-0 France on the French side of things.
France’s participation in the tournament is now in very real danger.
Les Tricolores have not scored in five consecutive matches and Deschamps does not look like he has the answers to a goal-scoring crisis that should not exist with the calibre of player pulling on the famous shirt.
France look an incredibly poor side. With no disrespect to Georgia, who looked remarkably resolute at home as they did against Spain, this is a team that Deschamps’ side beat 3-1 back in March.
Not winning this type of match is simply unacceptable and if you were to put money on France making it through a playoff without being able to score goals, you would be very lucky to see it again.
Euro 2016 on home soil is on the horizon. As hosts, Les Bleus will not be playing in any qualifiers. Should they not make it to South America, there will be no competitive football in over two years. France’s hopes of avoiding embarrassment as hosts would be extremely low if that proves to be the case.
At the moment, the best case scenario is that France make it to Brazil via the playoffs. Anything worse than that does not even bear thinking about.
Another match, another blank for Benzema who has now gone 1,217 minutes without finding the net. While it is hard to blame France’s consistently pitiful displays of late on a man who has not scored an international goal in over a year, the 25-year-old should be scolding himself for letting this drag on.
What was a source of mild amusement at first is now beyond a joke now. The Real Madrid man is suffering from a very serious lack of confidence on the international stage, despite decent club form.
His performances for France have been quite simply unacceptable and to not be able to find the net at all in qualifying would arguably equal an omission from the final tournament squad for any other national side.
Benzema’s future with Les Bleus is now not just under short-term threat, a continuation of this malaise could be the end of his entire international career.
The other side of the coin in the Benzema debate is that this now shows ineptitude from Deschamps.
Having been so loyal and trusting to he Real Madrid star, the 44-year-old looks like a severely bad judge of character all of a sudden.
Credit to the former France captain for electing to finally play Olivier Giroud, but why should it have happened with Benzema still on the pitch?
Arguably the former Lyon man is a better number 10 than an out-and-out goal scorer, and even in that position he goes missing.
Giroud might not have the same flamboyance as Benzema when the latter is on form, but right now he has a pulse. That is a step up on the cadaver-like 25-year-old.
Besides, after Giroud’s start to the season, Benzema is not even in better form at club level anymore.
Although so much of the ire directed at France will go Benzema’s way, the whole team can take much responsibility to a degree.
As is so often the case, France find themselves in a situation where they have brilliant individual talents, but no team ethic.
Deschamps has tried to forge a strong team out of the less single-minded players and came up short. Even with some of those players, the team does not look unified.
Georgia was another indication to Les Bleus’ coach that this generation simply does not have what it takes to even get France to a World Cup, let alone challenge for one.
One potential to come from such a negative positive to come from such as poor qualification campaign is that the cries to expedite the progress of certain youngsters, who already appear ready for senior international duty, will be amplified.
France have just won an under-20 World Cup and reached the final of the under-19 European championship. Things are looking very bright in terms of the future and the short to medium-term is very worrying.
Should Deschamps fail to lead Les Bleus to Brazil, a systematic overhaul of the senior set-up is required with a two-year period for testing to follow.
One minor positive from all of this is that it could, and arguably should, have been worse.
Hugo Lloris’ vital intervention early in the second half, despite the fact that Georgia still hit the post, was very important and showed Deschamps that there are still certain members of his side that he can rely on.
The match was relatively straightforward in defence for the French, but they still could have conceded. Thanks to Lloris, they kept another clean sheet that provides some minimal consolation.
But the Tottenham Hotspur custodian is a player who has survived the reigns of the past two French coaches, Raymond Domenech and Laurent Blanc.
Should Deschamps get the axe, it would be very surprising to see the 26-year-old, arguably one of Europe’s best goalkeepers, get shoved out too.
The same however, cannot be said for many of his current teammates.