France eked out a 1-0 win over Peru this afternoon to qualify for the knock-out stages of this 2018 Russia World Cup
Hugo Lloris – 6
The captain has been quiet but assured in these opening two fixtures. Peru had nine shots on goal, but only two were on target, one of which Lloris saved well from Paolo Guerrero from within the 18-yard-box. Lloris looked calm, composed and led with example once again despite the lack of action.
Benjamin Pavard – 6.5
A much improved performance from the Stuttgart central defender, but one could argue that he didn’t add much going forward, at least not as much as Djibril Sididé would have. Yet, Pavard has the defensive stability that Deschamps loves which was on show against a tricky and speedy Peru side, but when it came to going forward, Pavard was somewhat reserved with his runs into the opposition half.
Raphael Varane – 7
Varane was dominant at the back again today for France, with next to nothing getting past him. The Real Madrid man nearly got on the scoresheet as well in the first half, when he rose high above the rest of the Peru team, but his header just went wide. The Frenchman didn’t have too much to deal with – not compared to what will come his way in the next round – but he still remained imperious and solid when needed.
Samuel Umtiti – 6.5
It was important for Umtiti to have a good game following his mind freeze in the previous game against Australia, and while he did have a few iffy moments today, it was an improvement for the Barcelona defender. He looked strong and clever at times, but also looked vulnerable and was seemingly occasionally being targeted by Guerrero in the middle. As the game grew on, Umtiti started to get the better of his Peruvian counterpart and he became dominant in the middle, winning his battles comfortably.
Lucas Hernandez – 6.5
At times, Hernandez was taken apart by André Carrillo on the left flank but once Carrillo decided (for some reason) to swap wings, Hernandez was more comfortable and was able to play his own game without having to worry about any attackers running at him with pace. The decision to pair him up with Blaise Matuidi on the left benefitted Hernandez hugely and he looked more composed than in the first game last week.
N’Golo Kanté – 8
This might have been the best performance of N’Golo Kanté in a France shirt, and that’s saying a lot. He was incredible in the first 45 minutes, cutting out every pass and tackling everything in his path, popping up everywhere like a mole on a Whack-A-Mole machine at a circus. The second half was quieter for Kanté but he was still everywhere when needed, completing his task to perfection. Easily the man of the match, the man is an absolute machine.
Paul Pogba – 7.5
A lot of people were criticising Pogba heavily following the first game against Australia and there was a lot of pressure on the midfielder to perform and be key to a victory. He may not have scored a hat-trick or performed to an unreasonable level (like everyone stupidly seems to want him to do), but he keep things simple and was key to the only goal of the game, winning the ball and sliding in Giroud. Pogba was calm, creative and quite simple which made his play effective. There is obviously still a lot of talent to emerge from Pogba, but a performance like this is a positive and a good step in the right direction.
Kylian Mbappé – 7
There was something weird about Mbappé today. At times he looked superb and quick – his usual self – but also occasionally you wanted him to be a bit more productive and efficient. His lack of tracking back will be a cause for concern for Deschamps, a manager who loves his wide players to have defensive discipline, and will probably be worked on a lot in training. His flicks and tricks do look impressive and are whenever they come off, but don’t be surprised if those are cut out from his game soon. He showed quick thinking to get on to the end of Giroud’s shot for the goal, but there is still a lot more to come.
Antoine Griezmann – 6.5
Today showed that while Griezmann is a talented player in his own right, he performs so much better when he is coupled with a striker who can be a target man and hold up man at the same time. The fact the Peru backline were dealing with Giroud allowed Griezmann to find space and play some brilliant passes and make some good runs for the wide players to try and find him. He didn’t score and he was hauled off half way through the second half, but Griezmann can still be proud and be pleased with his performance.
Blaise Matuidi – 6.5
There was a lot of criticism for the selection of Matuidi but his defensive discipline and energy in the midfield was key to France’s style of play today. He stopped Carrillo from damaging Hernandez at France’s left side but also gave Pogba and Kante licence to do their jobs without worrying about leaving space behind. He may not have been as productive as he once was for Les Bleus, but his impact on the team was second to none.
Olivier Giroud – 7
If France have any serious hope of winning the World Cup, Olivier Giroud has to start. It’s as simple as that. He may be a target man and a player that encourages long ball tactics, but this competition is about winning games, not how beautiful your play looks. He allows the other forwards to find space and effect the game in different ways. Not only that, but when the Peruvians tried to mark other, quicker French attackers, it let Giroud free to take a shot or work another chance like what happened on the goal. He may not be the most elegant of strikers, but you’ll be hard pressed to find one more effective and important to their team at this World Cup.
Ousmane Dembélé for Kylian Mbappé – N/A
Nabil Fékir for Antoine Griezmann – N/A
Steven N’Zonzi for Paul Pogba – N/A