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France Rebound From Horror Loss To Sweden With England Win

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 13: Djibril Sidibe of France celebrates his goal with N'Golo Kante and Thomas Lemar during the international friendly match between France and England at Stade de France on June 13, 2017 in Saint-Denis near Paris, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Didier Deschamps’s France had lost second place in their group to Sweden after a blunder from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris gave the Blagult a 2-1 scalp of Les Bleus. At the Friends Arena in Sona, Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud scored in the 37th minute before goals from a couple of Toulouse FC hands in Jimmy Durmaz (43′) and Ola Toivonen (90′ + 4′) completed a late show late mail comeback.

At the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, it was a slightly different story. England, now under the management of Gareth Southgate, were feeling the momentum brought on from their Under-20 counterparts and were hoping to dial right in. Unfortunately, despite a man advantage, the heart of French sporting spirit was not to be denied as Les Bleus fought valiantly en route to a 3-2 comeback win, a momentous victory for the ages in this, one of the great footballing rivalries of the modern era.

Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur did all he could, opening the scoring nine minutes in to put the visitors in front. Samuel Umtiti of FC Barcelona (22′) and Monaco‘s Djibril Sidibe (43′) responded to put the hosts ahead at the break. The second half started very ominously for France, as Raphael Varane of Real Madrid was sent off in the 47th minute due to the DOGSO rule, allowing Kane to equalize in the 48th minute of play. Borussia Dortmund‘s Ousmane Dembele proved to be the hero, scoring in the 78th minute to let Deschamps off the hook for now as manager of Les Bleus.

The one contest that could ultimately decide Deschamps’ future with the French national team is on Aug. 31, when they host Dick Advocaat’s Netherlands at this same venue, the Stade de France. The Netherlands are currently third in Group A of the European qualifiers with 10 points, while France are level with Sweden on points (13) and on record (4-1-1) but have an inferior goal differential (+6 to Sweden’s +8). A win for the Oranje will certainly put them in the driver’s seat to at least make the second round of the qualifiers. A loss and France could be looking at a new manager to save their aspirations at making the FIFA World Cup Finals.

Following the moment of truth against the Oranje, France host Luxembourg at the Stadium Municipal on Sept. 3, travel to Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia on Oct. 7 to face Bulgaria and finish off their round of qualifying with an Oct. 10 home date against Belarus. Those last three matches are expected to be straightforward affairs for Les Bleus, but, as seen in their last two hit-outs, it’s never easy if you don this strip and every mistake is certain to be magnified as the Road to Russia reaches a fitting climax.

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