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In review: France’s Euro 2020 Campaign

ByDave Stopher

Jul 5, 2021

After looking far from their best in the group stages, France’s hopes of being crowned European Champions for a third time ended in a whimper in the round of 16, where Switzerland produced the shock of the tournament thus far — defeating the World Champions on penalties after a thrilling 120 minutes of football.

Didier Deschamps couldn’t seem to get his all-star squad firing on all cylinders like he did three years ago at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and he was left constantly switching things up, desperately looking for answers. In the end, France were made to pay the price, crashing out of the tournament in the last 16.

So, as we gear up for the quarter-finals of Euro 2020, let’s take a quick look back at France’s campaign. Read on to find out more.

Matchday 1 – Victory over Germany

With France paired alongside Germany and defending European Champions Portugal in Group F, it was important that Les Bleus got off to a winning start on matchday 1 against Joachim Löw’s side. And, when Mats Hummels turned a cross from Lucas Hernandez into his own goal, the French were more than happy to sit back and soak up the pressure from the Germans, occasionally hitting them on the counter, but not able to make any count.

Matchday 2 – Draw with Hungary

France were heavily expected to pick up another three points when they went head-to-head with Hungary in Budapest. However, the co-hosts made the former favourites in the odds to win the Euros pay for missed opportunities from Kylian Mbappé and Karim Benzema when Attila Fiola gave Hungary the lead on the brink of half-time. Antoine Griezmann levelled the scores about 20 minutes into the second half, but, despite their perseverance, France couldn’t find a winner.

Matchday 3 – Draw with Portugal

With Group F still wide open heading into matchday 3, it was all to play for in France and Portugal’s clash of the titans at the Puskás Aréna. Cristiano Ronaldo gave Portugal the lead from the penalty spot after 30 minutes, before Benzema converted a spot-kick of his own to ensure the sides went in all-square at half-time. It wasn’t long into the second half before the Real Madrid striker doubled up, finding the back of the net in the 47th minute. However, another penalty kick from Ronaldo ensured the honours were shared, and France topped the group with five points.

Round of 16 – Defeat to Switzerland (Penalties)

With Benfica striker Haris Seferović giving Switzerland the lead and France defender Benjamin Pavard gifting the underdogs a penalty in the 55th minute following a clumsy challenge, all Ricardo Rodriguez needed to do was score from the spot to all but kill off France. However, the 28-year-old missed and momentum instantly swayed in the World Champions’ favour.

Just two minutes later, Benzema had levelled the scores and a mere four minutes after that missed penalty, France had gained the lead, with the Madrid forward netting again. When Paul Pogba curled home a stunning effort from long-range with 15 minutes left, it looked like Deschamps’ side had survived a scare.

However, it’s not over until the final whistle and Seferović gave the Swiss a glimmer of hope when he bagged his second goal of the game in the final 10 minutes and there were scenes of jubilation when Mario Gavranović fired past Hugo Lloris to make it 3-3.

With neither side able to break the deadlock in extra-time, the match headed for penalties, and with Switzerland netting all five of their spot kicks, the pressure was on Mbappé to convert from 12 yards. But his effort was saved by Yann Sommer.

France’s Player of the Tournament – Karim Benzema

Many would argue that Paul Pogba deserves the honour of being named France’s Player of the Tournament. However, Benzema coming back into the international fold after over five years away and settling in so quickly, scoring four crucial goals in the process, is a fantastic achievement.

What’s next for France?

Deschamps’ future as France boss is unclear, with many people touting Zinedine Zidane to replace his former international teammate and close friend at the helm. However, whoever is in charge of Les Bleus come the World Cup in Qatar next year, there’s no doubt that France will still be one of the teams to beat.