France’s paradox: Kylian Mbappé is the reason for Deschamps’ caution

Forward is at his best coming off the flank, but this may cause an imbalance in the side as they take on Belgium

When some teams are dull and unimpressive, it is because they are dull and unimpressive. When France are dull and unimpressive, it is because they are managing the tournament. With a World Cup triumph, plus defeats in another World Cup final and a European Championship final under his belt as head coach, Didier Deschamps has earned that sympathy.

Portugal’s success at Euro 2016 and France’s at the 2018 World Cup are the examples on which Gareth Southgate has to a large degree based his philosophy. Keep it tight, reduce as much as possible the possibility of the opposition scoring and rely on the excellence of the forward players to win the margins. Deschamps clearly learned a lot under Marcelo Lippi at Juventus, but in his approach to tournaments he follows Aimé Jacquet, under whom he captained France to the World Cup in 1998.

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