Like a gala match, or almost. Didier Deschamps’ France team offered themselves the luxury of being able to welcome Sweden to the Stade de France this Tuesday, November 17 without the slightest pressure from the result, with just the satisfaction of ending this year 2020 weighed down by the coronavirus . This final meeting of the League of Nations counts for butter, the Blues having already qualified for the four-way final of the competition in 2021 (read opposite), thanks to their stunning victory in Portugal (1-0) on Saturday 14 November.
Against the reigning European champion, the Blues have indeed delivered one of their finest copies since their world title in 2018. Three days after the sad spectacle staged by a French team against Finland (a defeat 0-2), the holders returned to tighten the bolts as rarely for two years: Hugo Lloris to bring out a few decisive parries, Raphaël Varane to secure his defense without fail, N’Golo Kanté to multiply at the four corners of the field and even score his second goal in the selection, Paul Pogba to cast a wide net and Antoine Griezmann to shed light on the game.
And in tune, almost a new kid who turned out to be almost essential. Yes, there, on the left wing, exactly in place of a certain Blaise Matuidi today in early retirement across the Atlantic, a tall guy wearing a bun: Adrien Rabiot. Playing fair, technically irreproachable, author of the shot pushed back into the net by Kanté, impeccable binding of a dominant midfielder. What to forget the past wanderings? Everyone obviously wants to put the episode of the man’s diva whim in the spring of 2018 definitively in the box of nasty memories. Adrien Rabiot was then one of the pearls of PSG, a raw talent that rose to seed on the lawn from the start. age 6, trained at the club and stacking the national blue jerseys in youth selections. Often capable of the most beautiful but also of some ragged performances, especially with the Blues joined in the fall of 2016. In six small starts, the midfielder was not decisive. Not enough in any case to convince Didier Deschamps to embark on the adventure of the Russian World Cup.
Simple reservist, Adrien Rabiot was then annoyed, judging this status too limited. Deploring a lack of consideration, he refused to play substitutes. Cold anger of Didier Deschamps, who suddenly closed the door of the France team to the “Duke”, his nickname at PSG. Karim Benzema is well placed to know that such a ban can amount to a life sentence. The affairs of Adrien Rabiot were hardly arranged with the improbable soap opera of his desired departure from PSG. The player first found himself deprived of the field from December 2018 to June 2019. Then after his transfer to Juventus Turin in July 2019, short of playing time, he waxed the bench for a long time in his new club.
The click finally arrived after the interruption of the Italian championship by the coronavirus. Adrien Rabiot elbowed at the beginning of the summer and won his place of holder for a thunderous end of the season with Juventus. Something to catch the eye of Didier Deschamps, who remains a pragmatic man. “It happened what happened, we can not go back, neither us nor him. But you know me, I don’t like to take radical positions ”, comments the coach suddenly announcing the surprise return of the player in selection at the end of August 2020.
Since then, Adrien Rabiot has ensured four starts, including a remarkable one against Croatia (4-2) and another extremely brilliant against Portugal. Didier Deschamps wandered a bit to express his satisfaction on Saturday night: “I don’t mean to say he’s transformed, but he’s not the same anymore. Afterwards, it’s a relationship of trust too. We have discussed (…) Here, the most important is what is in front. “ And in front, for an Adrien Rabiot who since childhood places the blue jersey above everything, it is obviously Euro 2021. This time, at 26 years old, it will be a question of not missing the boat. The player knows it, and Didier Deschamps, given the effectiveness of the formula deployed against Portugal, could be convinced. Is right.