Albania 0-2 France: Griezmann to the fore in Deschamps' 100th match

By Ryan Benson 18 November 2019 19
Albania 0-2 France: Griezmann to the fore in Deschamps' 100th match

France wrapped up their successful Euro 2020 qualification campaign with a routine 2-0 win away to Albania in Didier Deschamps' 100th game in charge, with Antoine Griezmann playing a vital role as Les Bleus secured top spot in Group H.

With Turkey – who defeated Andorra 2-0 on Sunday – still in the hunt to finish at the summit, France knew a victory would ensure they won the group and there rarely looked to be any danger of the hosts claiming a famous victory.

Griezmann, much-maligned at club level with Barcelona, was central to France's success, setting up Corentin Tolisso's headed opener before coolly slotting home their second.

Olivier Giroud saw a couple of presentable chances go to waste after the break, hitting the post with one of them, but Albania never looked capable of capitalising, allowing France to see out the win.

France were much quicker out of the blocks and went ahead after just eight minutes, as Tolisso met Griezmann's free-kick delivery from the left with a glancing header into the bottom corner.

It was then Griezmann with the decisive touch just past the half-hour mark, calmly guiding the ball into the net following Leo Dubois' low delivery into the danger zone.

Barca star Griezmann should have had a second assist late in the first half, but his unmarked club team-mate Clement Lenglet inexplicably headed over from close range.

Proceedings were rather more laborious at the start of the second half, though a well-worked move did see France go close in the 63rd minute – Wissam Ben Yedder scooping a pass to Giroud, whose volley across goal was parried away by Etrit Berisha.

Giroud went even closer 18 minutes from time when hitting a curling effort against an upright, though it had no impact on the result.

 

What does it mean? Deep France squad makes light work of qualification

Les Bleus were always expected to ease through qualifying and they have done just that. Dropping points in both matches against Turkey was not ideal and proves they can be harmed, but they are blessed with squad depth like few other nations.

Sunday's win demonstrated just that. Even without Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe, they were still able to call upon impressive reserves.

Griezmann proves he has still got it

A difficult start to life at Camp Nou has done little to quell suggestions Griezmann – who was often disappointing at Atletico Madrid last season – has stagnated in recent years. But he was impressive in Tirana, scoring, getting an assist and producing a match-high six key passes.

Ben Yedder underwhelms

Given a rare start in the absence of Mbappe, Ben Yedder's excellent domestic form was rewarded. But the Monaco striker struggled to involve himself aside from one clever pass to Giroud in the second half.

What's next?

France's preparations for next year's tournament will begin in earnest, with the draw for the finals taking place at the end of the month. Albania had already been eliminated, however, meaning they must take stock of their current situation and begin planning for what they will hope is a more successful qualification campaign for the 2022 World Cup.

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Ryan Benson

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