Our lead photo, goes to the referee, Sandro Ricci, the game's most interesting character. And Stu Holden gets the line of the day: “Ten minutes left. Can we make it five?” I predicted 0-0 but didn't imagine it would be this bland.
Best part of the match was the referee Ricci, an avuncular sort how put everyone in their place with a friendly but firm “seriously?” glance that was both disarming and authoritative. For some reason I imagine him an excellent dinner host, presiding over some slow-cooked beef dish. And that sort of sums of the match, the first genuine waste of time I’ve seen felt about a game. Neither team had much to play for, but it couldn’t have been much less inspiring.
Kante still class, clever and subtle, just a metronome of regularity when you want. Varane oozes class, unflappable. I thought Kimpembe is entirely alluring, like what looks like superior pace to Umtiti, and Sidibe was fine. One thinks perhaps Sidibe and Mendy offer more attacking thrust than the two preferred backs (Hernandez and Pavard). Everyone else who played made no case for themselves. Lemar has gotten a lot of hype with Monaco, but looked to me to be jack of all trades and master of none here; maybe if played with a great overlapping left back, it works, but there was nothing here. Dembele was a black hole, utterly without a sense of intent, and Nzonzi just a guy you bring in to kill off a game. Giroud...ugh. They had 3 or 4 really nice looks with him in the second game, and nice fellow, but blah. France has had some great teams without much of a #9, so maybe he is a talisman in that regard. Mbappe was a jolt of life when he came in, but other than that just a fully blah performance, jeered by the neutrals no less.
Denmark, well, they're dreadful to watch when they are trying. I hope they go out quickly and emphatically. Schmeichel and Kjaer are excellent, Eriksen always lethal in the few moments that they get him the ball. They didn’t have Poulsen, the only attacking force that’s caught the eye other than Eriksen, so that's a momentary point in their favor. They may well have lost Delaney to a nasty fall on his arm, and if so the second clog-it-up specialist in the midfield. Someone, please dispatch them soon.
The takeaway: France at this point is all potential. Not having put it together at any point in three games doesn’t bode well. I’m not sold. At all. Everything is coming from a very clogged middle of the pitch, and that's just too easy to defend.