There is some speculation at the moment that Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred is on the verge of singing for Manchester United. That has fuelled countless opinion articles on how the Brazilian, alongside Nemanja Matic, can help United get the most out of Paul Pogba. Indeed, it is often a criticism levelled at Pogba that ‘great players shouldn’t need systems and tactics to shine’.
The argument of players playing out of position or in a system that doesn’t suit them will go for eternity, but it does raise some interesting questions ahead of the World Cup. France, in particular, seem to be a side that has yet to realise the potential of its incredibly talented individuals, Pogba included.
But, is Deschamps the man to deliver on this promise? France have stuttered a little under his tenure, although they were very unlucky to lose to Germany in the 2014 World Cup Quarter-Final and probably should have defeated Portugal in the Final of Euro 2016. France are arguably stronger now than in those two instances. It just remains to be seen if they can get their tactics right on the pitch.
The Pogba situation seems to have resolved itself, with the Manchester United star getting more freedom in a three-man midfield with N’Golo Kanté and Blaise Matuidi. But it is with the forward line where the real interesting tactics might take place. Oliver Giroud has a good goal-scoring record for France and acts as a perfect foil for Antoine Griezmann, but pairing the latter with Kylian Mbappé and Ousmane Dembélé looked like a masterstroke in the 3-1 victory against Italy this week.
Dembélé could explode if given the chance
Dembélé, who scored a wondergoal against the Azzurri, is a massive 125/1 to be top scorer (Paddy Power). You can check out the best bookmakers offers 2018 to back the 19-year-old, or his colleagues Griezmann (10/1) and Mbappé (33/1). But if these three fire, France could go the distance.
For many, France’s main weakness is something out of Deschamps’ control – a lack of quality in the full back positions. It looks like Bernard Mendy and Djibril Sidibé are carrying injuries, with Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernández acting as backups. If France has a Marcelo or Danilo in the squad, we could be handing them the trophy now.
The task facing Dider Deschamps is both easy and difficult. He has the ingredients to create one of the best footballing sides in a generation. The question is does he have the right recipe for success? Recent evidence suggests that he might.