Feeble France exit Euros having failed to live up to the hype

football09 July 2024 22:33| © Reuters
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French fans felt a familiar feeling of gloom on Tuesday while watching their team fall to a 2-1 semifinal defeat by Spain and exit Euro 2024 with another disappointing performance at a tournament where they arrived as one of the favourites.

Led by a clutch of famous names including captain Kylian Mbappe, France head home having scored their only goal from open play in the tournament in their last game.

Mbappe also failed to be a difference maker for his side when he was expected to be the main attraction.

After taking an early lead, France allowed Spain to fight back with two goals in four minutes before the half hour mark and never really threatened their rivals who were happy to sit on their narrow lead.

Spain manager Luis de la Fuente was criticised after the quarterfinals for being too conservative with a one goal lead against Germany who pounced on a deep-lying Spain with their relentless energy, equalising after 13 attempts in the second half.

Facing a similar situation against a Spanish team missing three key players through injury and suspension, France showed no urgency to cut the deficit, even after coach Didier Deschamps made four substitutions in the second half.

France offered limited pressing against the Spanish defenders who were content to pass the ball around their own box to run down the clock.

Other than Randal Kolo Muani's header in the ninth minute, France managed only two more shots on target and, even when a goal down, they were unable to produce simple combinations, with their players instead cutting in and firing long-distance shots wildly over the bar six times.

Deschamps's head-scratching decision to leave talisman Antoine Griezmann on the bench also proved costly as France had only won one of the last eight games where he did not start.

It was a fitting end to France's underwhelming campaign in which they scraped through to the semifinals.

On the eve of their loss to Spain, a defiant Deschamps told a press conference that those who thought his side were "boring" should "go watch something else". Now they will.