France 1-0 Uruguay
So international football draws to a close in 2018 and what a year it’s been for France!
World champions for a second time and on top of planet football, it really gets no better than this for anyone of a French persuasion.
As international friendly goes, this was a low-key affair. However, it didn’t matter.
It was time for an end-of-year party in Paris, and the Stade de France was in good voice even if the early loss of its mercurial young talent put a slight dampener on proceedings.
Highlights of the game
France’s Ferland Mendy in action with Uruguay’s Matias Suarez during their International Friendly match in Paris
If there was any disappointment at missing out on a place in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals 24 hours earlier, it certainly didn’t show.
us fans would have been delighted as manager Didier Deschamps named a strong side against a somewhat understrength Uruguay (weakened particularly in defence) which ensured the international friendly 2018 betting odds were strongly in favour of the hosts.
Once again, Antoine Griezmann showed his admiration for the visitors, just as he did this summer, by wearing a special pair of boots displaying both flags in honour of both nations.
His fondness for Uruguay can be traced back to his very first days as a professional and that affinity with Celeste remains.
Griezmann has been pictured in Uruguay shirts, regularly drinks the national drink and supports Penarol, one of the two biggest teams in the country.
Griezmann also met his club teammates Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez at Madrid airport last year, wearing Uruguay’s jersey when they flew back after clinching World Cup qualification.
He has even said his close relationship with the duo has made him feel ‘part Uruguayan,’ a statement which irritated frontman Luis Suarez who claimed otherwise.
Once the niceties were out of the way—Griezmann giving a warm welcome to Gimenez (Godin was missing)—chances arrived from the start, particularly for the home side.
Olivier Giroud slid the ball wide after Kylian Mbappe and debutant Ferland Mendy teamed up inside three minutes.
Hugo Lloris was then called into action to keep out a Matias Vecino header. Mbappe was played through by Griezmann after that, but he saw his chip bounce the wrong side of the post.
A Blaise Matuidi shot was blocked before Vecino tested Lloris once again.
The downside for the hosts was an injury to Mbappe who went down clutching his shoulder following a collision with Martin Campana on the half-hour.
The starlet tried to run it off but to no avail and ultimately trudged off the pitch looking despondent.
Worryingly for Paris Saint-Germain fans, Neymar also left the pitch early tonight through injury during Brazil’s friendly with Cameroon.
Into the second half and, after Griezmann saw a shot blocked illegally, the deadlock was broken six minutes after the restart.
It was Martin Caceres who handballed in the penalty area, paving the way for Giroud to coolly convert the spot-kick from 12 yards.
Mbappe’s replacement, one-time Newcastle winger Florian Thauvin, called Campana into action as Les Bleus remained on the foot front.
Only one goal behind, Uruguay tried to up the tempo but the match had all the air of an end-of-year friendly. It was evident by the fact it took until 11 minutes from time for a challenge deemed serious enough to warrant a yellow card, with Uruguay’s Rodrigo Bentancur the recipient.
A superb ball from the quiet Edinson Cavani put Jonathan Rodriguez in on goal, but he could not capitalise on abject home marking. A late rally from the South Americans, including a late Vecino effort, proved futile.
It scarcely mattered. The world champions were largely cruising as they said au revoir to a year they will never forget.
The international friendly 2018 results haven’t been kind to Uruguay, with the defeat marking their fourth straight loss.
Giroud’s goal moves him up to fourth in the all-time scoring charts for France. This was his 32nd international goal, one ahead of arguably the best player the nation has ever produced, Zinedine Zidane.
When Giroud left the field, he was replaced by debutant Alassane Plea of Lille.
These two countries have quite a history. In fact, this was a re-run of the quarter-final in July in which France triumphed 2-0, courtesy of goals from Raphael Varane and Griezmann.
Perhaps surprisingly, this was only the ninth ever meeting between these nations (seven of those have come this century). Four of the eight meetings have been draws with two wins for either side.
Top of Form
That’s it now for both nations this calendar year.
France will eagerly await the draw for Euro 2020 in Dublin next month after which their fixtures will be confirmed.
Uruguay will have warm-up matches next spring for the 2019 Copa America which starts in June.
The draw for that takes place in January in Brazil who will host the competition.
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