Qualifications for Euro 2024: thanks to Pavard and Maignan, France wins in Ireland (1-0)
Released by Benjamin Pavard and saved by Mike Maignan against Ireland (1-0), the French team emerged victorious on Monday from a bitter fight in the fervor of Dublin, a success which already clears up its road to the Euro 2024. In front of 50,000 excited spectators in a packed Aviva Stadium, the Blues turned their backs to clinch a second consecutive victory in these qualifiers, less convincing than Friday’s big success against the Netherlands (4-0), but that had to be obtained with other ingredients: the heart and the guts.
As a symbol, it is a man of the past and a man of the future who carried France towards this narrow success: the ghost Benjamin Pavard and the new number 1 goalkeeper Mike Maignan. He released two exceptional saves at the very end of the match, to maintain the advantage obtained by the Bavarian in the 50th minute with a dry strike.
Perfect accounting operation
The accounting operation is perfect for the pragmatic Didier Deschamps: this trip to the Republic of Ireland allows the Blues to escape at the top of their qualifying group, with three points ahead of Greece and the Netherlands, all two winners of Gibraltar during this truce. The weak Mediterranean nation will be on France’s agenda at the next rally in June, as will Greece in Saint-Denis: two very accessible prey on the road to the Euro in Germany, from June 14 to July 14, 2024 .
The trip to Ireland, complicated, will have had the merit of reviving Pavard. Deprived of playing time since the first match of the 2022 World Cup against Australia, stung by the technical supervision and downgraded in the hierarchy, the Bavarian freed the Blues with a shot which hit the bar before lodging in the nets (50th). It was enough, in any case, to revive the memories of the 3,000 supporters of the France team gathered in the small north stand of the Aviva stadium.
Captain Kylian Mbappé had taken care to warn on Sunday that only “adversity” would make it possible to “see what this team has in its stomach”. His lyrics may not have referred to the 48th nation in the world, with no big name or notable performance in recent years. However, it was the Republic of Ireland, and not the Netherlands, which posed the most problems for Didier Deschamps’ men, with its line of five intractable defenders, its low technical waste and its warlike temperament, fueled by the fervor of the 50,000 spectators.
Ten days after Ireland’s rugby success in the Six Nations Tournament, it’s as if the party hadn’t stopped in Dublin: overexcited, the “Boys in green” played their part with worthy precision pipers, bagpipe players, crossed in the streets of the capital.
Giroud and Mbappé less prominent
The last ten minutes, in particular, were untenable in the area of Mike Maignan, who released two fantastic parades in quick succession, on a header from Jules Koundé close to turning into an own goal (89th), then in front of a kick from helmet of Nathan Collins who took the direction of the skylight (90th). But the young French team have shown experience in being patient, even when Mbappé remained more timid after his double on Friday.
The Parisian was muzzled by the Irish, but he also suffered from a less solid performance from his friends on the left flank Theo Hernandez and Adrien Rabiot. Didier Deschamps will also be able to be satisfied with the interesting meeting of Eduardo Camavinga, established in the middle when he was called up as a left side.
That of Olivier Giroud, relaunched in the axis of the attack at 36, will remain more ordinary compared to the promises of Randal Kolo Muani. In two tenures, the Frankfurt player has clearly upset the hierarchy.