France vs. Denmark: Score, Grades and Reaction from International Friendly

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2015

France’s Olivier Giroud, center, controls the ball as he challenged by Denmark's Simon Poulsen, left, and Erik Sviatchenko during their friendly soccer match at Geoffroy Guichard stadium in Saint-Etienne, central France, Sunday, March 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
Laurent Cipriani

France comfortably beat Denmark 2-0 in an international friendly on Sunday, as Les Bleus dominated from start to finish and missed several chances to add to their tally throughout the match.

Playing mostly with younger or less-experienced internationals, France made a fantastic impression, showing their tremendous depth and versatility against one of Europe's emerging sides.

The hosts were eager to erase memories of the 3-1 defeat at the hands of Brazil and started with plenty of intensity. Kasper Schmeichel fumbled the ball over the back line while trying to deal with early pressure, and Denmark's defence was struggling to cope with the pace.

Laurent Cipriani/Associated Press

Benoit Tremoulinas was an early standout, regularly advancing up the pitch and launching dangerous crosses. Those attacking intentions nearly cost his team, however, as he was out of position when Lasse Vibe found the ball with space. Fortunately for Les Bleus, his cross was a poor one.

Just as the Danes looked to be settling down, France found the breakthrough. Antoine Griezmann and Alexandre Lacazette combined well, and when the former's shot was stopped by Schmeichel, the Olympique Lyon man blasted home the rebound for his first international goal, via Bleacher Report's Jonathan Johnson:

Jonathan Johnson @Jon_LeGossip

BUT! Alexandre Lacazette makes it France 1-0 Denmark with his first senior goal for Les Bleus. #FRADAN

France's relatively inexperienced team played with lots of creativity, and Tremoulinas was one of the driving forces. Dimitri Payet nearly converted one of his many great balls into the box, putting his effort just over the bar.

Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe liked what he saw from Payet:

Sam Tighe @stighefootball

Dimitri Payet looking very good tonight so far! He needs big performances every time to force his way into DD's XI.

Lacazette went on a run through the heart of Denmark's defence and drew a fine save from Schmeichel, while Tremoulinas came close to doubling France's lead from the resulting corner.

Meanwhile, Denmark's main attacking threats were being kept quiet. Christian Eriksen hardly featured on the ball, while Nicklas Bendtner was virtually invisible in the first half.

Payet was next to have a crack, shooting inches wide of the post, before Olivier Giroud finally put away France's deserved second goal after some lovely play from Geoffrey Kondogbia, per FFW:

FFW @FrenchFtWeekly

Kondogbers has started strongly, and now he sets up Giroud, who scores. BUUUUT! 2-0

Les Bleus were happy with the two-goal advantage and took their foot off the gas, allowing Denmark to build some momentum. Eriksen first played a smart short ball from a free-kick, which came to nothing, before Bendtner suddenly found himself alone at the back post.

The Wolfsburg man should have scored but completely whiffed his attempt, with the ball bouncing off the post. FFW noted France escaped by inches:

FFW @FrenchFtWeekly

Anything more from Bendtner and that was a certain goal. Still, for now it's HT and France have a well-deserved 2-0 lead. See you in 15.

France again took control of the ball to start the second half, but the pace was significantly slower, resulting in few chances. Payet and Tremoulinas continued their strong work in the attacking third, and Denmark's back line remained shaky.

The hosts wanted a penalty after two defenders denied Lacazette with force following some great work from Giroud, but the official indicated he saw no foul play. Replays suggested the forward was tripped by both players in the span of a second.

With 30 minutes left to play, Didier Deschamps introduced in-form forward Nabil Fekir, and per FFW, plenty of people were looking forward to seeing how the youngster would fare:

FFW @FrenchFtWeekly

Nabil Fekir is warming up. The collective blood pressure on the other side of the mediterranean rises ever so slightly.

It took him less than a minute to make his presence felt, skipping past two defenders before servicing Christophe Jallet, who nearly found Lacazette.

Stephane Ruffier was called into action for the first time after 64 minutes, needing to produce a fine save to deny Eriksen's low shot. Suddenly, Denmark came alive, and Bendtner found the post again with a beautifully angled shot.

The Paraguay Football Blog's Ralph Hannah was ready for some heroics from the man himself:

Ralph Hannah @paraguayralph

France leading 2- 0 with about 30 mins to go against Denmark - all set up for a Bendtner hattrick

Fekir kept impressing with his speed and quick feet, finding Jallet in a dangerous area. But the rest of the French squad appeared content defending the two-goal lead, and with few players following Fekir into the attacking third, chances grew even rarer.

Laurent Koscielny nearly had the shock of his life as the ball fell to him from a corner, and the Arsenal defender seemed too startled to remember he's supposed to put it in the goal when that happens. After his initial shot was blocked, his second attempt somehow found its way through a pack of players but passed the post on the wrong side.

Chelsea youngster Kurt Zouma then found his way onto the pitch, but per Tighe, not in the role you'd expect:

Sam Tighe @stighefootball

Kurt Zouma's senior France debut...comes at holding midfield!

Lasse Schone had a go from the centre of the box, but a slight deflection made it an easy save for Ruffier. 

There was room for a little more drama late, as Jallet fell awkwardly onto his shoulder and appeared to be in great discomfort. Team doctors immediately called for a substitution, and Jallet needed a stretcher to leave the pitch, which left Lyon fans to fear the worst as the Ligue 1 title race enters its final stages.

Jallet's injury effectively ended the match, as both teams were content to just pass the ball around until the final whistle.

This was a fantastic performance from France, who were without the likes of Paul Pogba and Karim Benzema and only handed Blaise Matuidi a handful of minutes. Les Bleus bounced back from the loss to Brazil in emphatic fashion and look like serious contenders for next year's Euro 2016 championship.

Relevant Match Grades

Jens Dresling/Associated Press

Alexandre Lacazette: B+

Few players in world football have seen their transfer value rise as much as Lacazette has in the past 12 months. The Olympique Lyon player has firmly established himself as one of the best young forwards in the game right now, and he did nothing against Denmark to suggest his effectiveness is a product of Lyon's attacking system. 

Benoit Tremoulinas: B

Tremoulinas may be a defensive liability, but on the attacking end, he was an absolute stud against Denmark. One of the least-known players in Deschamps' squad on Sunday, the veteran full-back certainly made a name for himself.

Christian Eriksen: C

The Tottenham player didn't see much of the ball in the first half, and while the French midfield deserve a lot of credit for keeping him out of the match, you'd expect Eriksen to find more success against a squad playing without the likes of Pogba and Matuidi. For all of his quality, he tends to disappear too often at times.

Post-Match Reaction

Manager Deschamps told reporters he was satisfied with France's first-half performance, before pointing out he has his core group of guys, via Goal's Matthew Rogerson:

"We did better things in the first half. The rhythm then dropped a lot, which with many changes is only logical.

There are a core of players. Players must now focus on their domestic and European competitions."

Part of Deschamps' press-conference (in French):