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France vs Albania a few quick thoughts

  • France are the first side to qualify for the Round of 16 after beating Albania
  • But they left it late again in which to do so
  • Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba were subbed off for Anthony Martial and Kingsley Coman against Romania on Friday and it was arguably those substitutions that won the game against Romania
  • Didier Deschamps decided to bring in Martial and Coman in from the start this time around
  • That choice certainly raised some eyebrows and it’s fair to say the decision didn’t have the desired effect
  • Martial only lasted 45 minutes while Coman lasted 68
  • But regardless of the personnel they couldn’t break down a spirited Albania defence
  • And it was Albania who were nearest to scoring after Ledian Memushaj hit the woodwork after meeting an inch perfect right wing cross
  • France had countless opportunities but couldn’t seem to breach the Albanian backline
  • Dimitri Payet, Paul Pogba and Oliver Giroud were quility of missing chances
  • While Giroud’s replacement Pierre-Alan Gignac didn’t fare much better
  • The longer the game went on the more frustrated the French became
  • But also it meant Albania were being forced deeper and deeper to try and defend everything that France threw at them
  • There was near heroic defended from this near Albanian side
  • But there resolve was to be cruelly broken as once again France bagged themselves what would prove to be an 89th minute winner
  • Didier Deschamps was ordering his side to pile forward and it was Adil Rami of all people who put a speculative cross into the box
  • He managed to find Antoine Griezmann unmarked and the Atletico Madrid Forward glanced his header into the net to put France ahead and break Albanian hearts
  • You could see at that point the relief for France but also the despair for Albania
  • Everything they had given over those 89 minutes was in vein
  • Once again it shows how cruel Football can be
  • But it would prove even more cruel when Dimitri Payet would cut through a weary Albanian defence to make it 2-0 in the 6th minute of added time
  • A second win for France and their place in the Round of 16 secured
  • But this win will have only papered over their cracks
  • Is the pressure of hosts getting to them?
  • Will that eventually prove to be their undoing
  • Does Didier Deschamps know his best eleven, you would imagine Griezmann has done enough to warrant a start in the next game
  • That game will be against Switzerland where a point will be enough to secure top spot in Group A
  • While for Albania, they know that nothing less than a win will mean they are out and even that may not be good enough to see them qualify as one of the four best 3rd place sides.
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