Emmanuel Petit: French forwards didn’t know what they were doing against Oz

The French were disappointing in their first game, but crucially secured all three points. They'll need to improve if their to lift the trophy though....


The most important thing for France is that they won. It’s big for their confidence to start well. Emotionally, there has been a lot to take on for many of the young players who lack the experience of this level of competition.

They did pretty well, they showed a lot of the right ingredients, physicality, intensity, and tactical awareness, they were adaptable, but overall, as a team, France did not play well.

That’s not such a bad thing though, and could be good for the future, because we were far from our best level individually and collectively, but the most important thing was that we won the game.

KAZAN, RUSSIA – JUNE 15: French coach Didier Deschamps arrives during the French team press conference at Kazan Arena on June 15, 2018 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

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You must show intensity, the rhythm was very slow, we didn’t put pressure on the opponents, there was no pressing at all. There were so many things that didn’t work well, but if you look at the other big teams at the World Cup, many of them have struggled. France are the only ones to have won their opening game so far. That is what I would look at this stage.

The inexperience of some players showed – and Dembele, Griezmann and Mbappe didn’t know what they were doing
Didier Deschamps changed his tactics right before the game. We usually play with a diamond in the midfield, and suddenly for the first game he changed the system, I’m not sure that was the right decision.

On top of that he put in some players who convinced him in the friendly game against Italy. He tried to put the best attacking team on the pitch but, honestly, it looked the total opposite. They didn’t look anything like that during the game.

The players were trying to figure out what they should be doing on the pitch, but they couldn’t find it. Look at Dembele, Griezmann and Mbappe, for example.

They are full of talent yet they did nothing during that game because we haven’t seen something clear tactically. I can’t tell you what was going between those three guys because I don’t know if Dembele was playing on the left or Griezmann on the right, or Mbappe was up front. It was not clear at all, and needs changing.

There was also a huge gap between the midfield players and the three forwards. We had no movement, no mobility, no variety, no creativity during the game. The fact that we played so below our level and still won is encouraging for us, in a way.

More experience – and Olivier Giroud – is needed against Peru
Against Peru, we should be starting a more experienced team. France must be very careful here because Peru know if they lose the tournament is over for them.

Against Denmark, they were so unfortunate to leave without a point, and they could’ve even won that game, because they had so many opportunities to score. They even missed a penalty.

In terms of their performance, I was not surprised at all, because I’ve watched them a lot in the last few months, and they play together as a unit very well. They play for each other. Tactically, they sit deep in their own half and try to counter attack. Their strikers are powerful and fast up front too.

Peru will want to leave possession to the French so they can hold back to counter attack. It doesn’t matter if they play like this for an hour or more, they will be happy if they get two or three dangerous opportunities. But they’ll have to be more efficient in front of goal.

When you get chances at this level, you need to score. We’ve seen that with so many teams in the competition, you need to make the most of your chances at this level.

The last time France played a South American team, we lost at home to Colombia 3-2, and we were leading in that game. When you see what Mexico did against Germany yesterday, I’m quite sure Peru will play in the same style against France.

I want to see Olivier Giroud back in the team. With him, we have a perfect striker up front, we know exactly what we can expect from him. The rest of the attacking players can move around, whether they are fast players, big players, small players, Mbappe, Griezmann, Dembele, they can all play off him.

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