Euro 2020: How France’s arrogance coupled with desire can help them lift crown - Leon Wobschall

AMID the awesome array of quality exhibited by France against Germany in Munich on Tuesday, two things stood out.

WINNERS: France's Antoine Griezmann, left, and Lucas Hernandez celebrate after beating Germany in Munich. Picture: Franck Fife/Pool via AP
WINNERS: France's Antoine Griezmann, left, and Lucas Hernandez celebrate after beating Germany in Munich. Picture: Franck Fife/Pool via AP

It was not the wonderful pass with the outside of his foot from Paul Pogba which supplied Lucas Hernandez to set up the only goal. Splendid though it was.

Or one breathtaking turn of pace and ferocious press from N’Golo Kante to reclaim possession in the first half. He and Pogba have never lost in 28 games playing alongside each other for Les Bleus incidentally and it is easy to see why.

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It was not the sight of Kylian Mbappe effortlessly moving through the gears to breeze past Mats Hummels in the second half – after giving the German World Cup winner a considerable head-start – either.

France's Paul Pogba and Germany's Toni Kroos challenge for the ball in Munich. Picture: Matthias Hangst/Pool via AP

Or the Paris Saint-Germain superstar’s sublime curled finish for a picture-book goal which was subsequently ruled out.

It was the sight of Antoine Griezmann – a stellar player who finished in third place in the Ballon d’Or awards in 2016 and 2018 – unselfishly working his proverbial backside off all game for the common cause.

It showcased the desire of a side adorned with special individual talents who seem collectively driven in their quest to follow up glory in the World Cup with success in the European Championships, just as France previously did in 2000.

And then there was Pogba pointing to Bavarian soil at the final whistle with a look of total authority and conviction as if to say to their continental rivals: ‘We have just won in Germany’s back yard (comfortably), over to you, Europe. And the English.’

France's manager Didier Deschamps. Picture: Franck Fife/Pool via AP

It was arrogance of the right variety. France had laid down a marker and shown they were the real deal and everyone knew it.

Pogba may be someone who many believe possesses an ego to match his wage packet. Here, he showed he is a team man and that is the way that Didier Deschamps – the selfless ‘water-carrier’ in that famed 1998 World Cup winning side who is aiming to become the second man after Berti Vogts to win the Euros as a player and manager – likes it.

Deschamps is plainly in town for business, with his mindset summed up eloquently in the following recent quote: “I am not here to have fun – if so, I would go to Club Med.”

On the evidence of midweek, it will take a special team to deny France – who face Hungary in Budapest today – this summer.

Belgium or Italy? Maybe. Some may say the biggest threat to France is the French themselves.

Ahead of the tournament, the Parisian media made plenty of some perceived simmering tension between Mbappe and Olivier Giroud.

After France’s final friendly with Bulgaria, the Chelsea striker – who had played alongside Mbappe – said in unsubtle fashion: “I was a little quiet because, sometimes, I make runs and the balls aren’t forthcoming”.

His utterances were seized upon and viewed as a slight towards his rival and a mini-brouhaha began with Mbappe later admitting that he was irked by the comments.

The French contingent do have previous, of course, for the odd cutting missive about a team-mate. The recalled Karim Benzema famously remarked last year that while he is a “Formula 1 car”, Giroud is just a “go kart.”

But in truth, if this constitutes the biggest problem for France, they are in a pretty good place.

If their national team keeps winning, the French public will not care a jot and even if some individuals do not like each other, it should not interfere with the pursuit of glory.

Teddy Sheringham and Andy Cole did not get on either, but won plenty at Old Trafford.

It is Germany and not the French who have the issues ahead of today’s action.

They face a Portugal side who famously beat them 3-0 in Rotterdam in Euro 2000, a night which saw the Germans finish bottom of their group.

Germany, who looked uncomfortable playing a 3-4-3 against the French, produced more questions than answers.

They looked what they are, a side who have won one game against a top European side — a 3-2 win over Holland in March 2019 thanks to a 90th-minute winner – since lifting the Confederations Cup in 2017.

But would anyone be brave enough to write off the Germans just yet?

A victory over the reigning champions at the Allianz Arena would get their show back on the road at a timely juncture.