10 years of Deschamps – two titles, the Benzema affair and a knockout at Euro
On July 8, 2012, just after the 0-2 defeat against Spain in the quarterfinals of the European Championship, the French Federation (FFF) decided that Didier Deschamps would replace Laurent Blanc. It’s been 10 years since the decision changed fortunes for the better. Qatar-2022 will be the next target.
Deschamps’ August 15, 2012 debut against Uruguay was far from what was expected. France struggled to defend a disappointing 0-0 draw with Uruguay in Le Havre. The Celeste also played without Luis Suarez and Cavani. The starting lineup on his debut was as follows: Llaurice; Debuchy, Sako, Yanga-Mbiwa, Evra; Ribery, Mavuba, Gonalon, Valbuena; Giroud and Benzema.
The quarterfinals of the first major tournament
The first major test for Deschamps as coach was the 2014 World Cup. France reached the 1/8 finals as Group E winners after victories over Honduras (3-0) and Switzerland (5-2) and a 0-0 draw with Ecuador. The French beat Nigeria 2-0 in the 1/8 finals, but were eliminated in the quarterfinals. A single goal from Mats Hummels lifted Germany (0-1) to the semifinals. However, Les bleus left a pleasant aftertaste and laid the groundwork for the success that came almost immediately.
The most tragic night
Unfortunately, Deschamps’ worst memories as a coach have little to do with soccer. It happened on November 13, 2015, which coincided with a friendly match between France and Germany. The French won 2-0 in a game marked by tension at the Stade de France goal. That night, 131 civilians were killed and 415 injured in terrorist attacks in Paris. There were moments of panic at the Stade de France, as the stadium was one of the suicide bombers’ targets. There was a terrible explosion near the stadium. The terrorists, on the other hand, were going to detonate a bomb right at the match.
The Benzema Affair
If there is one thing for which Deschamps has been criticized, especially in recent years, it is the absence of Karim Benzema from the national team. The Real Madrid striker was suspended from the national team because he blackmailed compatriot Mathieu Valbuena. Benzema received a year suspended and a €75,000 fine. He was not in the national team for five years, Karim returned to the team only before Euro 2020.
Deschamps’ worst defeat as coach occurred on July 10, 2016. France overcame criticism and went from less to more until it reached the final of its home Euros. In Saint-Denis, everyone was waiting for the French to win the title against Portugal. Even Cristiano Ronaldo was forced off the field due to injury in the 25th minute. Nevertheless, Portugal won 1-0 and became European champion thanks to an unexpected long-range strike by Eder in the 109th minute of extra time.
World champion as a player and as a coach
If there is a day marked by fire in this past decade for Didier Deschamps, it is July 15, 2018. France defeated Croatia (4-2) thanks to goals from Griezmann, Pogba, Mbappe and Mandzukic and was proclaimed world champion for the second time in its history. Didier Deschamps, France’s 1998 champion as a player, joins Franz Beckenbauer and Mario Zagallo in a “select club” of celebrities who know what it means to win the World Cup as players and as coaches.
A shot at Euro 2020
France has approached Euro 2020 as the clear favorite. This team just won the 2018 World Cup, and to Mbappe, Griezmann, Pogba, and Kante was added one of the best forwards in the world, Karim Benzema, who returned to the team. “Les bleus”, however, finished the group stage not too confidently: they beat Germany (1-0) and played draws with Hungary (1-1) and Portugal (2-2). Even with those results, they won the group and had good playoff prospects. However, the scenario was not what everyone had expected. Switzerland led 1-0 and managed to score a penalty. France seemed to have put out the fire. Benzema’s double and Pogba’s goal made the score 3-1, but Seferovic and Gavranovic responded in the end and the match eventually came down to a penalty shootout, with Kylian Mbappe being the big loser. The world champion went home after the 1/8 finals.
League of Nations, second title
After failing at Euro 2020, France was able to win the League of Nations. The French defeated Belgium 3-2 in the semifinals, and they beat Spain 2-1 in the final, coming back from a Mikel Oyarzabal goal. Karim Benzema’s superb strike and Kylian Mbappe’s controversial goal earned France the title.
Highest number of matches for the national team as coach
Deschamps has made French history as a player and as its coach. He is not for nothing the coach who has played the most games with the national team – 129. His numbers are 83 wins, 26 draws and 20 losses. Thus, he has won 63.8 percent of his games. He is still behind Roger Lemerre (64.2%), Aimé Jaquet (64.2%) and Jacques Santini (78.6%)
103 players used
France’s doors are open with Didier Deschamps. In his 129 games as coach, he called up 103 different players, gave 65 players the opportunity to make their team debut. The player Deschamps used the most in those 10 years was Antoine Griezmann, who played 107 games. Giroud (103) and Lloris (102) are next. The top scorer of the “Deschamps era” is Giroud with 47 goals.