Our ratings as France round off 2021 with an away win in Finland, in more challenging circumstances following their rout of Kazakhstan on Saturday.
Hugo Lloris, 6 – Faced more of a threat today than against Kazakhstan, but still no serious challenges. Made one decent save from the only Finnish shot on target, but read play well on at least two occasions to beat Teemu Pukki to the ball, when his centre-backs had already been beaten.
Jules Koundé, 4 – Unable to produce the same quality of forward balls as against Kazakhstan, instead finding Finnish defenders on a number of occasions, giving away possession. Substituted in the 55th minute.
Dayot Upamecano, 4 – Also lost possession on a number of occasions, particularly in the first half. Made a questionable tackle with 20 minutes left in the game, which could have given away a free kick, if not a penalty. A few effective tackles in the last minutes.
Kurt Zouma, 5 – Little to do but remained useful in rare moments of Finnish attack. Aerial presence required at times.
Léo Dubois, 3 – Ineffective in comparison to Kingsley Coman in the previous qualifier. Where Coman had the quality and confidence to take on a number of Kazakhstani defenders, Dubois, when faced with one on the right wing, relied on passing it backwards to Koundé most of the time. Came off at half-time with a hamstring injury.
Aurélien Tchouaméni, 5 – Sat relatively deep for much of this game. Made a few useful interceptions, with a couple of nice passes to follow, particularly in the first half. Second half dotted with a number of badly timed tackles, without winning the ball.
Adrien Rabiot, 5 – Very quiet game for the Juventus man. Mostly involved in 50/50 duels in the middle of the park, a number of which were lost in the latter moments of the game. Substituted in the 85th minute without having made much impact.
Lucas Digne, 6 – Quiet first half but began to link up well with Mbappé and Benzema, following his introduction to the game. Not as threatening in attack as has been Théo Hernandez, but a decent effort nonetheless.
Antoine Griezmann, 5 – Minimal contribution to the French attacking threat. Wasted a couple of opportunities to either start an attack or work the Finnish keeper, Hrádecký, in the first half. Was able to deliver a dangerous cross in behind to Benzema however, just before being substituted with 20 minutes remaining in the game.
Moussa Diaby, 6 – Threatened early in the game with his pace in behind the Finnish back five, and linked up nicely with Mbappé to create an opportunity but went quiet after the first minutes. Substitued in the 55th minute.
Kylian Mbappé, 8 – The only French player to threaten regularly throughout the game, clearly playing confidently with the ball at his feet after his highly impressive performance against Kazakhstan. A couple of dangerous dribbles and a decent long-range effort in the first half were insufficient to break the Finnish defence, but the addition of his strike partner Karim Benzema made for a more dangerous second half. His neat flick inside the box created Benzema’s goal, while the Parisien made his own luck to score France’s second, carrying the ball alone from the halfway line and beating Hrádecký from a difficult angle.
Benjamin Pavard, 5 – Came on at half-time for the injured Dubois and was unable to add the injection of pace that Coman eventually did ten minutes later. Was forced back into the central defensive three by the replacement of Koundé with Coman, but did his job effectively, considering the lack of Finnish threat.
Kingsley Coman, 6 – Invigorated the French attack by adding the confidence that Dubois could not provide, coming on in the 55th minute for Jules Koundé. Much like Benzema, made an instant impact, driving positively against the Finnish left-back. Not as impactful as against Kazakhstan but contributed well.
Karim Benzema, 7 – Typically crucial to the French attacking performance tonight. Joined the game as a substitute with just over half an hour to play and got right to work: his first few touches created one of the handful of shots on target in the game. Within ten minutes, he had opened the scoring, perhaps with a fortunate deflection.
Mattéo Guendouzi, 5
Jordan Veretout, 5