Reigning FIFA World Cup holderson Wednesday which saw Antoine Griezmann's late effort ruled out via VAR. Didier Deschamps rotated much of his starting XI and will have been disappointed with the drop-off in performance with Les Bleus second best to the Eagles of Carthage for most of the game.
Wahbi Khazri's goal at Education City Stadium on the day marked the first competitive defeat for France since the UEFA Nations League against Croatia back in June. A third conceded goal from three matches brought the French run of 13 major tournament matches unbeaten to an end.
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It was also just the third time that the defending World Cup champions have been beaten by an African nation with France back in 2002 vs. Senegal another of those three results. Based on the performance shown in Al Rayyan, Deschamps' men did not deserve more and the 54-year-old admitted that some of his decisions caused his team difficulties.
"I do not know," said Deschamps of Griezmann's late effort chalked off due to VAR. "Maybe it was an offside position. It took time and calmed our fightback-inspired joy. We deserved it and we were good at the end. We had difficulties because of my decisions. Regarding those choices, they will need to serve us again in four days' time. I managed the at-risk players as our two opening games were played with a lot of intensity. I gave others the possibility and although it was not easy, they can see the difference between the World Cup and regular games. We reached our aim and now we want to recover for the next phase of competition."
It was not a happy 70th consecutive appearance with France for Griezmann who has not missed a game since back in August of 2017 as he came off the bench to see his late effort scrubbed. However, it was no less than deserved after an uninspired outing which ranks as one of the meekest by the world champions in recent memory.
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Deschamps might have a point that it is a new phase of the competition about to get underway, but he must have been disappointed by many of his gambles -- notably Eduardo Camavinga at left back. Qatar is not proving to be a walk in the park for any of the pre-tournament favorites, but Brazil are yet to play for a third time and Argentina have come back strong after losing to Saudi Arabia.
With Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Adrien Rabiot and Ousmane Dembele in from the start, you feel that it would have been a different outcome against Tunisia. Instead, Deschamps now has to reestablish the same chemistry and momentum which was coming on nicely after the Australia and Denmark wins in time for the round of 16.
Thankfully for the 1998 and 2018-winning former captain and now coach, Argentina winning Group C makes their next game against Poland less daunting than it could have been. The potential quarterfinal against England will be of concern, though, given the Three Lions' unbeaten status and nine-goal haul already this tournament.
Ultimately, if Plan A works, France should be fine until at least the quarters -- certainly based on their performances against the Socceroos and the Danes. Should Deschamps need to improvize at any point, though, this loss against the Tunisians showed that the French squad is not as solid as the successful 2018 vintage in Russia.