In the folklore of the green Erin, he is a small humanoid creature specialized in the art of making shoes and counting the gold coins which she keeps in a cauldron at the foot of a rainbow. According to legend, the leprechaun – that’s his name – also has the power to grant three wishes to whoever catches him. Monday March 27, at the final whistle of the second match of the Blues in the Euro 2024 qualifiers, one would almost come to wonder if the coach of the French football team, Didier Deschamps, does not have one. captured one.
For their first post-World Cup away test in Qatar, in a bubbling Aviva Stadium in Dublin, his men laboriously overcame the Republic of Ireland (0-1). A narrow success that the Habs owe to Benjamin Pavard, scorer of a powerful strike in the 50e minute ; this defender who was the providential man of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, before being confined to the bench after a disappointing performance during the inaugural meeting against Australia, four years later in the emirate. They also owe it, and above all, to their goalkeeper, Mike Maignan, and his two saving parades, in the final minutes of the game, first on an error from Jules Koundé, then a header from Nathan Collins. A “late stoppage that may be worth more than a goal”said “DD”.
“It’s never easy with this Irish team who are very aggressive”, conceded the technician, at the microphone of TF1, at the end of the game. But the accounting operation is final: with six points gleaned out of six possible, five goals scored and none conceded, the Blues conclude their international rally at the top of group B. “It’s the ideal result, with these two matches so close together, congratulations to the group, even if the road is still long. »
It is clear, and “DD” recognizes it, that “Today’s game was worse than Friday’s”, who had seen his troops win, with art and manner, against the Netherlands (4-0), on paper his most formidable opponent of this playoff campaign. In fact, if Ireland dominates the debates with regard to rugby – the selection, world number 1, has just offered the Grand Slam during the last Six Nations Tournament -, it is much less assured when it comes to round ball.
“The gap between this group, mainly attached to second-tier English clubs, and what [le sélectionneur irlandais] Stephen Kenny touted as ‘the best team in the world for the last eight years’ is a chasm’, summarized thus The Irish Times before the meeting. The Boys in Green (“men in green”) have missed the last five World Cups, Euro 2021, and the country is only at 48e rank in the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) rankings.
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