Life after Franck might not be so bad after all.
Karim Benzema, Blaise Matuidi and Antoine Griezmann all scored twice as France impressed in their final warm-up match for the FIFA World Cup, routing Jamaica, 8-0, on Sunday in an international friendly in Lille.
Yohan Cabaye, Matuidi and Benzema scored before half-time as Didier Deschamps' team swept aside Jamaica with fine, quick movement and precise passing.
After the break, Olivier Giroud, Benzema, Matuidi and Griezmann netted five more goals to seal a confidence-boosting victory and underline the idea that Les Bleus have new life without Franck Ribery as the World Cup nears.
The change in mood has been as swift as it's been decisive. France's first warm-up match ended in a disappointing draw with Paraguay last week. Compounding the result was the news that Ribery—who finished third in the 2013 FIFA Ballon d'Or voting behind only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi—would miss the World Cup with a back injury.
But with Ribery out, the rest of the squad sparkled against Jamaica. Though the performance should be tempered by the fact that Jamaica failed to qualify for the World Cup, Les Bleus will now be optimistic heading into their Group E matches against Honduras, Switzerland and Ecuador.
Benzema, who slotted into Ribery's left-sided role in France's attack, was influential throughout, while Mathieu Valbuena starred in a playmaking role. As noted by Goal.com's Robin Bairner, the latter confirmed his status as the key man in France's attack:
There was one moment of concern for France, however, as defender Mathieu Debuchy went off at half-time with an injury. According to French Football Weekly, Debuchy experienced a "strain when running."
France impressed from the start and took the lead in the 17th minute through Cabaye. The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder started the move himself before running onto Giroud's headed pass and finishing past Jacomeno Barrett for a 1-0 lead.
Matuidi made it 2-0 three minutes later with a low drive at the near post. Benzema then netted his first with a gorgeous, curling finish from the edge of the box in the 37th minute.
Leading 3-0 at half-time, France did not let up after the break. Giroud got on the scoresheet in the 53rd minute, slotting in first-time from Benzema's early cross. Benzema's second goal, a cracking shot into the top corner, made it 5-0 in the 63rd minute, and Matuidi volleyed in his second—France's sixth—three minutes later.
Benzema nearly completed his hat-trick in the 70th minute, but his shot from distance hit the post. Instead, the Real Madrid forward set up France's seventh goal seven minutes later. After winning possession in the middle, Benzema dribbled into the box and passed back for Valbuena, who was unable to finish. But Griezmann was on hand to lash into the net.
Loic Remy then had a goal ruled out for offside, but Griezmann still had time for another goal, finishing Jamaica off with a neat back-heel flick in the 89th minute.
|France Player Ratings|
|Bacary Sagna (for Debuchy, 46')||N/A||7|
|Rio Mavuba (for Cabaye, 59')||N/A||7|
|Paul Pogba (for Matuidi, 72')||N/A||7|
|Antoine Griezmann (for Giroud, 71')||N/A||8|
|Loic Remy (for Valbuena, 80')||N/A||No rating|
|Morgan Schneiderlin (for Benzema, 87')||N/A||No rating|
|Ratings via Karl Matchett/BR UK|
France coach Didier Deschamps downplayed the significance of his side's eight-goal win over Jamaica, calling for "perspective." As quoted by FourFourTwo.com, he said:
It (the performance) was full of confidence. But it does not give us insurance for the first game of the World Cup.
I know what you (journalists) are going to say, we met a team full of tourists. But I prefer to remember the merit of my players.
(The result) should be put into perspective. A completely different match awaits on June 15 (against Honduras).