How to fix France after Les Bleus shock Euro 2020 outcome

The overwhelming favorites on their way to Euro 2020, France crashed out in the last 16 after failing to really get started in the tournament.

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The team that took the World Cup by storm in 2018 had to limp past Germany, pulled with both Hungary and Portugal and then capitulated late to Switzerland to end one of the most overwhelming summers in recent memory.

The 2022 World Cup is just around the corner, and there is a lot France needs to find out before then.

Lenglet was lucky to be in the squad, let alone start / Alex Caparros / Getty Images

Didier Deschamps has his proven group of players who have done so well under him in the past, but his loyalty to them cost France this summer.

There are (and this is hardly an exaggeration) hundreds of midfielders who deserved to start against Switzerland more than Clement Lenglet. He has not been good for Barcelona but was thoughtlessly dropped into this huge spotlight, where his poor form was used mercilessly.

Neither Adrien Rabiot nor Corentin Tolisso had done enough to earn a place in this squad either, and their presence contributed to four games of uncertainty in France’s midfield. They could not fit into any system and Deschamps was too determined to make it happen.

France probably has the deepest talent pool on the planet right now, and Deschamps must realize that.

Upamecano is one of many who should have been involved / Boris Streubel / Getty Images

Youthful enthusiasm was a big part of France’s success in 2018. Mbappe was the obvious point of contact, but defenders Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez did their part and helped give a spark.

The je ne sais quoi was missing this summer, but France has so many players who can take it back next year and for many years to come.

At the back, it’s time to build around young people like Dayot Upamecano, Wesley Fofana, Jules Kounde and Theo Hernandez.

Go further and you will find a long list of players who deserved a place in the group more than Thomas Lemar. Why not Moussa Diaby, Jonathan Ikone, Allan Saint-Maximin or Jonathan Bamba?

But if France only fixes one place, it must be …

Why was Tolisso a winger? / Aurelien Meunier / Getty Images

Rabiot, Tolisso and Moussa Sissoko should not have been close to this group. No one was at the desired level and Deschamps had to constantly chop and change to try to find a way to make it work.

N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba are world football’s most terrifying midfielders, but the drop in quality down to third midfielder is alarming to say the least.

Christopher Nkunku, Eduardo Camavinga, Boubakary Soumare, Aurelien Tchouameni, Boubacar Kamara, Houssem Aouar, Maxence Caqueret, Jordan Veretout … the list of more deserving options continues.

Either choose players that actually fit the system or come up with a setting that does not hang underperforming players to dry.

Llori’s time may be over / Marko Djurica – Pool / Getty Images

Sure, he’s the famous captain. Lloris has earned class and excellence since his debut in 2009, but the reality is that he is not France’s best goalkeeper. Never.

Mike Maignan should have started this summer after leading Lille to the Ligue 1 title. You could even suggest that Monaco’s Benjamin Lecomte should have been ahead of Lloris in the breeding order.

As we move towards the 2022 World Cup, Leeds Illan Meslier, Nantes Alban Lafont and Angers Paul Bernardoni must also be considered.

Lloris will go down as an icon for the French national team, but he risks delaying his welcome.

Deschamps tinkered too much / Daniel Mihailescu – Pool / Getty Images

In four matches at Euro 2020, France tried four different formations: 4-3-3, 4-3-1-2, 4-2-3-1 and the infamous 3-4-1-2 that saw them capitulate against Switzerland.

Deschamps invented a tactic that was impossible to play against 2018, but he used it only once here – in a 2-2 draw against Portugal, which saw Tolisso underwhelm as a right-hander (obviously).

Did Karim Benzema’s return ruin things? France had prepared with goalkeeper Olivier Giroud but left only a few weeks to change things completely.

The boss needs to find something that works and stick to it. It’s 18 months to sort it out.

Mbappe was not characteristically suspended / Marcio Machado / Getty Images

32 touches in the penalty area. One who falls out with his teammates. Zero goal.

Mbappe just did not seem to be himself this summer and France must find out why quickly, for players of his alien talent must be maximized.

The PSG man may have worried about his future at club level. He may have felt the pressure to live up to expectations. There have even been suggestions that he spat his dummy after being commissioned to share the spotlight with Karim Benzema.

This was a serious check on reality for Mbappe, who has learned that the world is not actually his toy. How he bounces back from it can define France’s future.

Zidane can take the job / Juan Manuel Serrano Arce / Getty Images

The last point is about who you attribute the blame for this summer’s humiliation.

Did the players not get it right, or was Deschamps guilty of choosing the wrong players and not finding a way to put them all together?

There are too many reasons to point the finger at Deschamps. Sure, he’s done wonders for the country, but he looked out of ideas here and now has to spend his time putting the pieces back together.

With Zinedine Zidane waiting in the wings, it may be time to say goodbye.

For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!

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