Didier Deschamps’ France reign started on Wednesday evening with a 0-0 friendly draw against Uruguay at the Stade Oceane in Le Havre.
Each of the three previous meetings between the sides had finished scoreless, so there was little hope for an exciting encounter heading into this clash, and the first half would be a very disappointing affair. After the interval, the game livened up, yet neither side was able to find a winning goal, with Karim Benzema going closest as he hit the post.
The opening period was very bland, with France dominating play but struggling to find a path through a packed visiting defense. Indeed, les Bleus fashioned only one opening of note, but Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa’s header proved little more than an awkward block for Fernando Muslera.
There would be significantly more excitement after the break, though the South Americans were largely content to play on the counter.
Mathieu Valbuena would be lively for the hosts, and four minutes after the restart he would be set up by substitute Etienne Capoue’s accurate pass, though his finish was too close to Muslera to seriously trouble the goalkeeper.
On the hour mark, les Bleus went even closer. A lofted ball forward picked out Benzema at the edge of the box, but the Real Madrid man saw a technically-excellent side-foot volley come back off the post.
If there was not a flurry of chances for the home side, there was certainly a steadier stream of opportunities, with Ribery’s deft chip exciting the crowd before dropping just too high. Soon afterwards, Bafetimbi Gomis sent a shot from range skidding towards goal only for Muslera to deny the substitute.
While Uruguay’s approach was rather negative, the fourth-placed side on the FIFA rankings was not entirely subdued as an attacking force. At times Cristian Rodriguez drove them forwards from the midfield with real purpose, delivering a wonderful cross that Sebastian Abreu contrived to send straight back to Hugo Lloris when he really should have scored.
Ultimately a scoreless draw always looked on the cards, although France pushed for a winner until the end. Jimmy Briand had a good chance from a Mathieu Valbuena cross, and Gomis should have done better in stoppage time when well placed.
Deschamps’ first match in charge of France, therefore, did not end in disaster. Instead, it was a respectable draw against highly ranked opposition, and Aime Jacquet’s record of being the last Bleus coach to win on debut way back in 1994 remains intact.
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- Karim Benzema
- Fernando Muslera
- Mathieu Valbuena