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France nearly collapsed to a shock defeat to Iceland in an international friendly on Thursday, as the world champions drew 2-2 in Guingamp.
The hosts dominated the ball in the first half but were punished after 30 minutes, with Birkir Bjarnason breaking the deadlock for the visitors.
France appeared perplexed as the teams left the field at half-time, but events were to get worse for coach Didier Deschamps’ side.
Kari Arnason’s header made it 2-0 to Iceland shortly before the hour mark, and a shocking result was on the cards.
The French pulled a goal back with four minutes remaining. Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson put the ball into his own net to offer the 2018 FIFA World Cup holders a late lifeline.
Kylian Mbappe rescued France in the final minute of the match, converting a penalty after Kolbeinn Sigborsson was punished for hand ball.
Ousmane Dembele Is Overrated
It developed into a complicated night for Deschamps’ side, and the sum of their parts were lacking against an inferior opponent.
Iceland were beaten 6-0 in Switzerland recently, and their poor form was compounded with a 3-0 loss to Belgium.
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France fielded a good team for this friendly encounter, but those with a chance to shine failed miserably.
Dembele is a young player who has carried a big reputation on his shoulders in recent years, and his huge transfer from Borrussia Dortmund to Barcelona earmarked him for superstardom.
Dembele cost the Blaugrana an initial fee of £86.8 million, rising to a potential £135.5 million, but the player does not display qualities that warrant such huge figures.
In his pre-match press conference, Deschamps said he expects more from Dembele, and he has not yet fulfilled his potential for Les Bleus, per Goal:
“We expect a lot from him.”
France boss Didier Deschamps believes Ousmane Dembele’s end product has improved and hopes the Barcelona man can keep it up.
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The player has a bag of tricks at his disposal, but like Manchester United’s Anthony Martial, Dembele lacks consistency and edge.
Dembele’s effort shortly after the restart underlined the issues in his game, and his lack of potency was on show as he fired his shot into the watching crowd.
There’s plenty of time for Dembele to improve his all-round game, but his current rating as a world-class player is wide of the mark.
The attacker has creativity, but he’s not a superstar talent just yet.
Paul Pogba Lacks the Killer Instinct of a World-Class Midfielder
Pogba’s nomination for the 2018 Ballon d’Or came off the back of France’s incredible success at Russia 2018, where the Manchester United midfielder hit peak form to drive his country to glory.
However, tonight was the player that’s been seen at Old Trafford, often lacking the bite expected from a leader of the team.
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France controlled proceedings for most of this friendly game, but Pogba could not move through the gears and influence the attack.
The player was substituted shortly after the hour mark, and it was another disappointing night for midfielder.
Against a side of Iceland’s current quality, Pogba should be running the show. Instead, he’s being substituted for a lack of intensity.
Mirror Football highlighted the moment Pogba exited the game:
Mirror Football @MirrorFootball
65mins: France 0-2 Iceland
Pogba taken off
90 mins: France 2-2 Iceland
Pogba should now be a much more reliable talent at 25, and his flashes of brilliance will not be enough to help his club or country win matches.
Iceland should have won this game with minutes left on the clock, but France fought back, with Pogba off the pitch.
As things stand, Pogba’s legacy could be being remembered as a luxury player at the end of his career.
The Frenchman has to start delivering the consistency expected of any player that’s considered world-class by supporters and fellow professionals.