It certainly wasn’t that easy!
Luxembourg is a small country (540.000) but the recent feats of Albania and Iceland gave their coaching staff some new ideas about how to stay put in front of their opponents: “Why not us ? asked Luc Holtz the national team’s Manager, we’re performing well and we aim not to finish last on the table.”
It wasn’t just words; the teams who played Luxembourg this season didn’t had it easy: 1-1 vs Belarus, 3-4 defeat vs Bulgaria … France have had a fair warning; this game wouldn’t be as easy as it seemed to be, but would the Europe’s vice champions fall into that well laid trap ?
Didier Deschamps fielded a brilliant offensive array, using not only old timers like Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Dimitri Payet but also some young blood like Dortmund’s Moussa Démbélé, Barça’s Samuel Umtiti and Monaco’s Benjamin Mendy. Tottenham’s goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, captained the french side , while Mario Mutsch wore the armband for the locals.
Despite playing against the FIFA number 135 nation, France’s game was average at the best; several players had some difficult Champions and Europa League games under their boots and it showed! Their opponent, a tenacious Luxembourg side gave them work to do , even after Olivier Giroud scored from a close range (28th).
At 0-1 down, the hosts didn’t gave up; despite GK’s Anthony Moris injury and his replacement by Ralph Schon, they remained focused and drew level after Blaise Matuidi gave away a soft penalty and Aurélien Joachim scored from the spot. Nevertheless, it didn’t take long before Antoine Griezmann put Les Bleus up front, after Daniel Da Motta’s foul on Djibril Sidibé. France could also score some more if Payet hasn’t been so wastefull and selfish.
The relief on Deschamps face was telling after Giroud’s second one, thirteen minutes from the end; at 1 to 3 the French manager could at last give Monaco’s wonderboy, Killian MBappé aged 18 his first international debut and what a story could that be if his first shot wasn’t tipped over by the keeper !
Anyhow the work is done and France remain first(13 points) while Sweden after thrashing Belarus are second with 10.
Here’s the players ratings:
Anthony Moris(-) GK – Ralf Schon (6/10)- Laurent Jans (6/10)- Maxime Chanot(5/10) – Christopher Martins(5/10)- Kevin Malget(4,5/10) – Lars Gerson (4,5/10)- Cris Phillips(6/10)- Mario Mutsch (4/10)- Daniel da Motta ( 6/10) -Stefano Bensi (5/10)- Aurélien Joachim( 6/10)
Hugo Lloris GK (5,5/10)- Sidibé(5/10) – Laurent Konscielny (6/10) – Samuel Umtiti(6/10)- Bernard Mendy (6,5/10)- NGolo Kanté(6/10)- Blaise Matuidi (4,5/10)- Moussa Dembélé (6/10) – Antoine Griezmann (6/10)- Dimitri Payet (4/10)- Olivier Giroud MOTM (7,5/10) ht
THE GAME’S HIGHLIGHTS : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZB40PU5Y5Y