Didier Deschamps, the group of starters and happy replacements

In another life, Didier Deschamps would have made a perfect HRD. In Qatar, he leads a prestigious SME of 24 footballers, only half of whom play leading roles. In the quarter-finals of the World Cup, during a tough match against England (2-1), the coach again relied on an eleven consisting of indestructible holders – the workforce did not shoot only during the third group match, i.e. “the hairdressers”, lost against the Tunisians (0-1). Against the English, only Kingsley Coman came on at the end of the match instead of Ousmane Dembélé.

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On Wednesday, December 14, against Morocco (20:00, metropolitan time), at the Al-Bayt Stadium, planted in the middle of the desert, the penultimate stage of the special mission to win a third World Cup star should once again be left to the same actors. At the helm of the Blues for ten years, Deschamps has become a master in the art of managing egos. And footballers’ ones are not the most malleable.

Behind the little beret, everyone moves forward in narrow ranks, facing the individual goal of the final victory. On Saturday night, the substitutes and even the substitutes’ substitutes experienced the game as if they were fighting it, jumping off the bench to protest or cheer on their teammates.

After landing a crucial header to kick the English out of Qatar, his 53rde goal in the blue shirt, Olivier Giroud praised the collective created by Deschamps: “What tips the balance is our team spirit, the fact that we don’t give up, that we work for each other. » An altruism embodied by Antoine Griezmann, who spends selflessly defending and likes to distribute the offers to his teammates. At 31, the Madrid player is now the Blues’ best passer with twenty-eight assists, including two in the quarter-finals.

“His great strength is collective cohesion”

Didier Deschamps, 54, is a gang leader by nature. “There is a collective strength that emerges from the start. The quality is not enough, in this group there is also the mind, and maybe also a little experiencethe coach insists. To have swung the game like that and to have stood against it until the end, we need that in a World Cup. The best cement is the results, the qualifications. »

Four years ago, in Russia, on the evening of a hard-fought success against Belgium in the semi-final, he had already elaborated “the state of mind of his group”. Provident goalscorer in Saint Petersburg, defender Samuel Umtiti spoke “of eleven dogs in the field”. The men have changed, but the dog handler has remained. And his Blues in 2022 are similar to those of 2018.

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