The road to Euro 2020 is here. France, the reigning World Champions are looking to continue their dominance in hopes of winning the tournament next year. France is eager to repeat the success they had back in Euro 2000 when they won the tournament as the reigning champs.
Furthermore, France wants to avenge their heartbreaking loss on home soil in the final of Euro 16. With a young and talented new golden generation, France is determined to stay hot and remain in their successful form.
Drawing into a group with much weaker nations, France knows that taking their opponents lightly leads to disappointing and humiliating results. A lesson learned during World Cup qualifiers is that arrogance and lack of concentration strikes a great blow of negativity to the team. By defeating Iceland and Moldova in the first two games, France is off to a comfortable start.
Scoring a total of eight goals in the first two games, France showed they still have their ability to drill the ball into the net. France’s attack further excelled by retaining a passing accuracy at least 90 percent, completing over 750 passes, and keeping at least 65 percent of ball possession. A total of 15 shots-on-target with eight goals.
Creating a unique pattern of penetration, France’s attack controlled the pitch, creating an opening for continuous scoring attempts. Defender Samuel Umtiti completed 100 percent of his passes (107/107) against Iceland. Furthermore, France’s eight goals came with assists. France still has good team chemistry and the players are all on the same page.
Although, France did struggle a few times by not capitalizing on golden scoring opportunities. While their attack is still hot and strong, there are a few holes that need filling. In the future, they can’t allow strong offensive attack threats to go to waste. They need to remember that after penetrating through the defense, they still have to get past the opposing goalkeeper. In other words, France’s attack cannot slow down as it foils their scoring opportunities. Furthermore, France cannot abandon an opportunity to score.
Allowing only one goal is respectable. Keeping the opposing attack under 35 percent ball possession is another positive as well as conceding only two corner kicks. However, allowing Moldova to have over 350 passes and a 75 percent pass accuracy while holding them to only 32 percent of ball possession is a problem. Late in the game, the defense failed to clear the ball away from the penalty box, allowing Moldova to catch them off balance and score. In this case, it shows that France came into the game a little arrogant and little too overconfident.
Afterward, against Iceland, France came onto the pitch with a more resilient and better-organized defense. Limiting Iceland to less than 280 passes and a ball possession of less than 24 percent gave France confidence. Despite Iceland having a 74 percent pass accuracy, the French defense was able to keep prevent the Icelandic attack from inflicting serious damage.
Scoring two goals each, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud are on France’s top ten all-time scoring list. Griezmann is ninth all-time with 28. Giroud is third with 35 and is seven goals away from reaching second all-time. Giroud has goals against 23 different nations, which puts him second all-time behind Thierry Henry (37). Appearing in both games, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to have 30 appearances for the French National Team, surpassing Karim Benzema. Scoring at least four goals in back-to-back games is France’s first since 2001.
France takes on Turkey in their next Euro 2020 qualifying match in June. France is off to its best start in Euro qualification since the qualifying phase of Euro 2008.