Fresh off the back of a rather convincing 3-1 victory against Italy in a friendly on Thursday, France travelled to Minsk to face Belarus in their first World Cup qualifier with confidence.
However, despite having numerous chances against the Eastern European side, Didier Deschamps men will return to their respective clubs with a 0-0 draw.
While Andrey Gorbunov, Belarus’ goalkeeper, pulled off some fantastic saves to keep France at bay, the French forwards lacked the finishing to put the game to bed.
One of the main culprits happened to be Olivier Giroud, who scuppered a glorious opportunity in the second half to put his country ahead.
Interviewed by L’Equipe, former France and Sochaux striker Yannick Stopyra, analysed the Arsenal striker’s performance, and he didn’t hold back.
He said: “Giroud the biggest disappointment? Yes, because you keep telling yourself since the Euros that he has a good partnership with Griezmann, which is true in the sense that Giroud has scored nine and Griezmann seven in their last 15 games together. It’s huge, but here he practically suffered through his chances.
“It cost us the victory. On Griezmann’s back-heel, for example, he seems surprised. He also doesn’t take in the goalkeeper’s position. There were better things to do than just hit it straight away. A striker must put that chance on target, as well as his header in the 58th minute. Without being mean, a good headerer (or is it header?) of the ball should put that in the back of the net.
“He hits the crossbar. Let’s say it was more or less on target. He’s played games where he was a bit behind everyone, but always found himself with Griezmann. But this time, he was just late on everything.”
The player already explained to Le Parisien his lack of match fitness comes down to Arsène Wenger telling him to take longer holidays following the Euros, and Mr Stopyra did admit that was probably the reason behind his performance.
If that’s the case, why did Didier Deschamps keep him on for so long before bringing on a fresh and match fit Kevin Gameiro? That’s what we want to know.