Well last week I was in France and although 'L'Equipe' led yesterday with French triumph in the European (Athletic) Championships the paper was also clearly proud of their u-19 football team's success. Most will be unsurprised to hear that this was contrasted with the national team's "fiasco Sud-Af."
France hosted the tournament but the home crowd in Caen would not have been pleased with their team's first-half performance. The popularity of 4-2-3-1 continued from the World Cup with both France and Spain lining up as such (see right) but it was Spain who made the French team look invisible with that famous tika-taka. In fact most will agree that Les Bleuets were lucky to go in at the break only 1-0 down.
Whatever Francis Smerecki said at half-time though worked. It is more than likely that he will have reminded the players of what happened two years previous in the u-17 European Championships where many of the same players got thrashed in the final 4-0 by the Spaniards.
The French came out fighting and challenged better right across the field for both territory and possession. Yannis Tafer (top goalscorer in that u-17s tournament) came on and helped to set up the equaliser with Sunu who chipped the keeper beautifully. France continued to push for that winner but it was only in the 85th minute that an individual effort by Gael Kakuta allowed for a relatively simple header at the backpost for Lacazette to make France European champions at this age group.
Forget Ribery, Henry and Evra; these are the Frenchmen to watch!
Man of the Match: Sébastien Faure
Not to be confused with the anarchist of the same name, the Lyon defender put in a solid performance at the back, even in the first half. Perhaps his performance in this tournament could mean a call up to his home-town team in Ligue 1 this season.