Antoine Griezmann stole the show as France secured a convincing 2-0 victory over Finland in Lyon on Tuesday.
France remain on top of Group D, in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying table, after securing a comfortable 2-0 victory over Finland on Tuesday.
It was a dominant display from Les Bleus who were heading into this game on the back of two successive draws that put them in a precarious position. But with the win, they are now the undisputed favourites to finish the group as the winners and secure direct entry to next year’s FIFA World Cup.
THT’s ‘Player to Watch’ Antoine Griezmann was the hero of the night for France, as they imposed early dominance with a goal in the 25th minute. They fared extremely well in the attack whilst preventing the opposition from making any inroads into the defensive third, with the hosts heading into half-time with a 1-0 lead.
A strong start to the second half saw Griezmann score once more, in the 53rd minute of the game. It was enough to seal the victory for the defending world champions. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will rank the French players in their convincing 2-0 victory over Finland in Lyon this midweek.
Hugo Lloris: 6/10
Hugo Lloris had virtually nothing to do as Finland mustered only one shot on target in the entire game and three attempts overall. It led to an easy clean sheet for the Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper – his first one for the French national team since a 1-0 win over Germany back in June.
Hugo Lloris: ''The crowd helped a lot in our performance. You could see that when we scored the first and then the second goal that the team grew in terms of confidence." #FRAFIN pic.twitter.com/HBR0JHLMJr
— Football24/7 (@foet247europa) September 8, 2021
Kurt Zouma: 6.5/10
Kurt Zouma was stationed on the right hand side of the French defence. The West Ham defender offered aid to his defensive partners, particularly using his aerial and physical prowess to good effect. It made life difficult for the Finland attackers, preventing them from making their presence felt.
Raphael Varane: 7/10
Raphael Varane was brought back into the side to add that much-needed confidence at the heart of France’s three-man backline. The Manchester United star offered leadership while his reading of the game was integral in keeping Finland at bay throughout the ninety minutes.
Presnel Kimpembe: 6.5/10
Much like Zouma, Presnel Kimpembde was there in defence to provide the muscle and the pace. Predictably, the Frenchman dominated the duels, especially in the physical ones while his athleticism helped him cover a large area in defence. It became useful when Theo Hernandez was making those marauding runs forward.
Leo Dubois: 7/10
Leo Dubois had a decent game on the right hand side for France. He offered attacking support, especially in the second half by making forays into the opposition third. The right-back most notably registered the assist for Griezmann’s second goal but was subbed off due to tactical reasons.
Paul Pogba: 8/10
One may have expected Paul Pogba to dominate this game in the middle of the park. While that certainly wasn’t the case, he was still an invaluable asset, especially in the creative department, as the midfielders continued to offer these sublime long balls over the top. His link-up play looked excellent as well.
a regular tuesday for paul pogba pic.twitter.com/YKSGb2vep6
— INTL. BREAK 🗺️#6 (@PogbaCeo) September 7, 2021
Adrien Rabiot: 6.5/10
Adrien Rabiot provided the necessary support for Pogba in the middle third of the pitch. He distributed possession all around the park while the former PSG showcased his athleticism as well by constantly tracking the Finnish ball-carriers. Nothing extraordinary, though.
Theo Hernandez: 7.5/10
Theo Hernandez had an excellent outing in what was his debut for the French national team. He made a solid impression with impeccable speed and the ability to make marauding runs out wide. It provided his team with the much-needed width going forward while the fullback was also wary of passing opportunities for his teammates in the final third. A good performance from the AC Milan star.
Antoine Griezmann: 9/10
Antoine Griezmann was the undisputed Man of the Match due to his sublime performance in the final third. He was a livewire throughout the game, causing chaos for the Finnish backline using his link-up play, technical ability and finishing skills. The Frenchman capped off his display with two goals and this performance will certainly make Atletico Madrid fans excited as he looks to make his second debut later this weekend.
Griezmann's first goal was exquisite 🔥 pic.twitter.com/VNDK4S5WZo
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 7, 2021
Anthony Martial: 6/10
Anthony Martial wasn’t as useful as some of the other attackers for France. He lacked the determination and drive, as well as the quality to make things happen in the final third. Should have gotten replaced by Wissam Ben Yedder much earlier in the game.
Karim Benzema: 8.5/10
Griezmann’s sheer dominance in this game wouldn’t have been possible without the influence of Karim Benzema. Indeed, the Real Madrid forward showcased an excellent understanding with his teammate, not only being a scoring threat for the opposition but also creating chances for his teammates, notably registering the assist for the opener.
Benzema and Griezmann playing some champagne football out here man
— TC (@totalcristiano) September 7, 2021
Nordi Mukiele: 6/10
Came on for Dubois midway through the second half, most notably having an effort on goal that slightly missed the target. He was largely brought in to offer more stability in defence.
Wissam Ben Yedder: N/A
A late replacement for Martial. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Aurelien Tchouameni: N/A
A late replacement for Griezmann. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Clement Lenglet: N/A
A late replacement for Kimpembe. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.