Antoine Griezmann played a starring role as France inflicted a 2-0 friendly defeat on Bolivia to continue their excellent post-World Cup form.
It took just five minutes for the world champions to go ahead at the Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes after a clever ball from Griezmann found Thomas Lemar who lobbed Bolivian goalkeeper Carlos Lampe.
A slow first half ended with a moment of quality as Griezmann struck from close range to double France’s lead. Two fantastic saves from Lampe kept the score respectable early in the second 45 minutes.
Lampe continued to deny France as they seeked to extend their lead. In the end a match that lacked any real bite or urgency finished with the European side triumphing over their South American visitors.
Here are five things we learnt from France’s 2-0 friendly victory against Bolivia this evening.
Griezmann’s doing his best to tease Barca
After admitting that his time at Atletico Madrid will be coming to an end, the 28-year-old has an important summer ahead as he seeks a move away from La Liga’s runners-up.
Indeed, it is looking increasingly likely that the striker will be sticking with Spanish football but swapping his red and white stripes for an extra tint of blue as reports suggest a move to Barcelona is moving ever closer.
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Tonight’s match provided Griezmann with the opportunity to showcase his abilities against opposition far from his superior. It didn’t take him too long to do just that, executing a delightful through ball to Lemar who duly finished with a swagger Griezmann embodies week after week.
Not long before the half-time whistle, Griezmann teased Barcelona officials into finalising the reported deal tonight as he pounced on a ball in the box, flicked the ball in the air and fired home from close range to double France’s lead before half-time.
France’s performance starting to calm down but Griezmann continued to look lively and with his move to Barcelona almost certain, this performance certainly didn’t do his chances any harm.
France can win even with Premier League absences
Being just a friendly match, France boss Didier Deschamps didn’t need to take too many risks with his line-up but it was impossible to include certain Premier League stars who have been involved in major European finals across the past week.
Regular captain Hugo Lloris was absent from duty due to Tottenham Hotspur’s involvement in Saturday’s Champions League final, as were other Spurs, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea stars, with the latter two involved in the Europa League final last Thursday in Azerbaijan.
Despite their recent domestic arrangements, Chelsea pair N’Golo Kante and Olivier Giroud were in fact on the bench with just two Premier League stars – Manchester United’s Paul Pogba and Everton’s Lucas Digne – starting from the off.
Pogba’s performance was far from influential but Digne showcased some decent moments on the left, offering support to Kylian Mbappe and company on that side.
Such is the depth of talent available to Deschamps, it is impressive that they can continue to produce the goods even with the absence of many Premier League talents, although it was against an inferior Bolivia side.
Bolivia won’t provide any shocks anytime soon
Currently 63rd in the Fifa rankings, Bolivia knew they were up against the very best on their own soil this evening. However, that is exactly what they need with their upcoming fixtures looking far from simplistic.
The South Americans are preparing for the Copa America which takes place this month and they face the tough task of taking on Brazil in the opening match of the tournament on the 15th June at the Cícero Pompeu de Toledo Stadium in São Paulo.
Tonight’s match couldn’t have started any worse for Eduardo Villegas’ side who would have preferred a more sturdy of starts against a side sitting 61 places higher than them in the Fifa rankings.
In truth, a shock result was never on the cards with the Bolivians failing to muster a single shot, let alone an effort on target in the first half. They naturally had far less of the possession, looked unable to push past the halfway line and looked to simply limit the number of goals hitting the back of the net rather than take any risks.
Going into this match, Bolivia weren’t in great form which was represented throughout tonight’s 90 minutes. They have won just once in the last 11 matches – a 3-0 win against lowly Myanmar in October – and they have conceded 15 goals in the past 10 outings. Brazil should face few problems in under two weeks time.
Post-World Cup form set to continue
Their triumph in Russia last summer will live long in the memory of all those of a French persuasion but as is football, life – or in this case, plans in football – has to continue.
Including this friendly, the world champions are in terrific form, losing just once in the last nine games since they lifted the iconic trophy almost 12 months ago, although that one loss – against England’s Nations League semi-final opponents the Netherlands – cost them a place in semi-finals themselves.
France have only failed to score twice since their World Cup final victory against Croatia last July and including tonight have scored an impressive 17 goals in that time too, a fete more impressive knowing they have played the Netherlands, Germany and Iceland twice apiece and have encountered Uruguay in that time as well.
Averaging 1.88 goals per match while keeping four clean sheets in the last nine games, Deschamps has got his side right on track in preparation for Euro 2020 qualification.
In their group stage, France – who have already beaten Moldova and Iceland (scoring four against both) – face two away trips against Turkey and Andorra which they are expected to pick up maximum points from without too much fuss.
Bolivia have themselves a pretty good goalkeeper
It was always going to be a match which saw France fire down on the Bolivia goal in an attempt to rack up a cricket scoreline to appease the demands on the French supporters.
Obviously, no-one spoke with Bolivia goalkeeper Carlos Lampe who produced a really good performance in between the sticks for the South American side.
If not for Lampe’s majestic form in goal, this match could have been close to double digits on the hour mark. However, of 18 shots with 10 going on target, on two hit the back of the net.
Lampe is fairly experienced at international level, making his 25th appearance for his country this evening with this small milestone a platform for him to impress.
At 32-years-old, the San Jose goalkeeper – currently on-loan from Chilean outfit Huachipato FC – won’t be eyeing up any big money moves this summer but he did make a strong claim to win the man of the match award this evening, at least in this writer’s eyes.