Thursday, June 15, 2017

Paris June 2017

13th June 2017  France 3 England 2  Friendly   Stade de France

I let the Eurostar take the strain and it was relatively painless.

Arriving in Paris in the middle of a warm Tuesday afternoon gave me time to collect the match ticket and settle down in a budget hotel near the Peripherique.

From where I took the familiar journey of metro and RER to the Stade.

The England section was separated off from the rest but with more than adequate, though pricey, refreshment options (i.e. beer)
Inside the locals did us proud with sympathetic choreo and a stirring rendition of ‘Don’t look back in anger’.

On the pitch the locals displayed their attacking talent.
In particular the precocious Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele.
Our central defence proved a poor match for these two.

However we did start well with Bertrand setting up captain Kane for a close range finish on 9 minutes.
Only for the French to equalise when a free kick reached Giroud whose header was parried leaving Umtiti to drive for 1-1.

In an entertaining game Sidibe was on hand for another follow up finish just before the break after a Dembele shot was again diverted.
That gave the French a 2-1 half time lead and the feeling was they would keep it.

But straight after the restart Alli broke through and tangled with Varane in the area.
Enter the ‘VAR’ - for the first time in an England game - and the subsequent, fairly brisk, award of a penalty and the, harsh, dismissal of the Real Madrid defender.

Kane decisively struck home the spot kick past his Tottenham team mate.

So England in the ascendency.
Well maybe not.

Because the talented French side carried on attacking.
And Mbappe should have delivered no.3 but contrived to hit the bar when presented with an open goal.
But his fellow striker Dembele would produce the coup de grace shooting past Butland with 12 remaining.
All this would expose the defensive (and midfield) limitations of the visitors.

So England had taken part in a couple of games with plenty goals but most fans will have the usual doubts.
Qualification for Russia is a given but how will we cope against quality teams like France and in particular pacy and skillful attackers like Mbappe and Dembele ?

A familiar pattern looks likely to emerge.

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