In the blink of an eye, France’s European Championship campaign had been flipped on its head. Having trailed Switzerland for a lengthy period in their quarter-final, France had finally made their dominance count, with a three-goal burst putting them in a commanding position. But after the Swiss pulled one back, the French crumbled, and before long it was 3-3, and it seemed inevitable that Switzerland would go on to win on penalties, which they duly did.
The inquest must now begin. France were the tournament favourites in the Euro 2020 betting, but were left to lick their wounds and ponder what went wrong. Let’s have a look at a few key areas where France struggled at Euro 2020.
With a centre-back pairing of Raphaël Varane and Presnel Kimpembe, it was expected that France would be a tough nut to crack for opposition attackers. However, throughout the tournament there was a degree of uncertainty in the backline, and Didier Deschamps’ men conceded a lot more goals than they would have anticipated.
Although they earned a clean sheet against Germany in their opening match, they conceded six goals in their other three matches in the tournament, and that kind of defensive form will not win you major titles. By comparison, France conceded the same number in winning the World Cup three years ago, over a span of seven games.
Injury troubles in the left-back position meant Deschamps had to tinker with his defensive shape for the Switzerland match, and the Swiss took full advantage of the France’s defensive shortcomings.
All in all, it was a tournament to forget for Kylian Mbappé. The Paris Saint-Germain forward went into the Euros as one of the players tipped to excel — his opportunity to fully come of age on the international scene now that he is maturing as a striker.
But Mbappé failed to notch a single goal, and while his overall performances weren’t terrible, it’s fair to say that he didn’t produce the kind of blistering form that was expected of him. To compound matters, it was Mbappé who missed the crucial penalty in the shootout against Switzerland, to cap off a disappointing few weeks for the Frenchman.
Lack of control
The most disappointing aspect of France’s early departure from Euro 2020 was the lack of assuredness and control they displayed in their matches. There were strong early signs in the game against Germany. France played with composure, kept Germany’s clear-cut chances to a minimum, and were unlucky not to win by more than one goal.
But from the Hungary game onwards, things slowly unravelled. They were overawed by the occasion in Budapest against the Hungarians, before squandering the lead against Portugal to only draw a match they really should have won.
Against Switzerland, it was a lesson in how not to perform in a knockout match at a major international tournament. France started slowly, allowed Switzerland to take the lead, and then after they had done the hard work in turning the game around, switched off again to let their opponents back in the game. It’s fair to say that there is plenty for French football fans to lament about their team’s performances at Euro 2020.