France vs. Australia: 6 Things We Learned
France demolished Australia 6-0 in a friendly at the Parc des Princes on Friday. Didier Deschamps' side showed a rarely seen clinical edge in defeating the Socceroos, dominating their Southern Hemisphere opponents from first kick to last.
Les Bleus went from famine to feast in spectacular style, racking up four goals inside of 30 minutes. The scoring was complete at 6-0 after just 50.
Olivier Giroud netted a double en route to victory, with Franck Ribery, Yohan Cabaye, Mathieu Debuchy and even Karim Benzema joining the Arsenal man on the score sheet.
At the other end, Australia threatened little and France's back line rarely looked flustered.
Despite it not being a FIFA World Cup qualifier, the result sets Deschamps' side up well for Tuesday's clash with Finland. It also bodes well heading into any potential play-off fixture Les Bleus may find themselves faced with.
Here are six things we learned from the match from a French point of view.
Benzema Drought Finally Ends
So he can score!
Karim Benzema ended his international goal drought after 1,222 minutes with his 50th-minute strike in the French capital.
The Real Madrid striker finally silenced his throng of critics by finding the net against a poor Australia side, and the goal came five minutes after coming on as a substitute.
Benzema looked focused, purposeful and motivated after replacing double goalscorer Olivier Giroud and got the goal that the French fans were practically begging him to score.
It may not have been the most outrageous of strikes, but the 25-year-old was in the right place at the right time to notch a goal that will do wonders for his confidence.
His lambasting of teammate Loic Remy for failing to square an easy chance late in the game is an indication of his immediate boost in morale.
It was not just Benzema getting amongst the goals, though, his teammates did too and in some style.
A 30-minute blitz saw Franck Ribery net a penalty and Yohan Cabaye notch a well-taken strike, while Arsenal marksman Olivier Giroud bagged a double.
Not since 2002 had Les Bleus scored four goals in the first half of a match.
Deschamps has quickly gone from having a pair of strikers that were struggling to muster an international goal between them, to having two who will be raring to add to their strikes on Tuesday evening.
Prior to the Belarus match, France had only scored four goals in seven games this year, including fixtures against Germany, Georgia, Spain, Uruguay, Brazil and Belgium. Now they have 10 in their last two matches.
To see FC Bayern Munchen’s Ribery adding his name to the scoresheet once again, after his recent goals against Belarus, will have been particularly encouraging for the France coach.
The Real Ribery Returns
What will be even more pleasing, though, was Ribery’s creative performance.
The 30-year-old provided three assists as well as scoring once, the first time anyone has created three goals since he did the same against the Faroe Islands in 2007.
Ribery looked confident and dominating, more like the player that we have grown accustomed to seeing perform so well and so consistently for Bayern over the past few seasons.
If he can continue to replicate his Ballon d'Or contention form, particularly against a more difficult opponent in any potential play-off, then France become a totally different proposition all of a sudden.
There is, of course, the concern that France were just being bullies for the evening, preying on a side that looked below par.
Australia were woeful from kick-off until the final whistle, never looking in the game and short of any real quality.
In fact, the score line could and should have been a lot worse for Holger Osieck's men had it not been for some smart saves from Borussia Dortmund's Mitchell Langerak.
However, it is difficult to say that France were at their absolute best against a side so poor in comparison.
Then again, you can only beat what is put in front of you and that is what Deschamps's side did. Convincingly.
Given the large winning margin, it will be intriguing to see how this newfound confidence translates to the match against Finland next week.
It was only a friendly, though, so it is crucial not to get carried away.
Hunger and Desire
For the first time all year, France showed passion, purpose and a hunger and desire to dominate their opponents at the Parc des Princes.
It is an approach that has all too often been missing when Les Bleus have played in World Cup qualifiers and one they need to harness for the clash with Finland.
Samir Nasri and Yohan Cabaye epitomised this, with the former looking particularly sharp, and as if he had a point to prove to his coach.
Deschamps looks like he has a number of hungry players chomping at the bit to contribute under his leadership. The key is now keeping those same players hungry heading into the play-offs.
It took until the 62nd minute for France to concede a single shot to Australia on Friday.
After that, the Socceroos had barely any other chances on goal and the French defence looked unflustered.
Mathieu Debuchy contributed a goal from right-back, while Raphael Varane, Eric Abidal and Mamadou Sakho all looked calm and collected in the centre of defence.
Patrice Evra started at left-back before he was replaced by Gael Clichy, but by that point, France were enjoying 70 percent possession and seeing so little from the Australian attack.
Deschamps' back line did what they had to do well, but that had very little in the way of meaningful pressure directed towards them.