1- Les Bleus thriving on temperament
Anyone who watched the Uefa Nations League last four mini tournament and appreciates the beautiful game will tell you that there isn’t much to separate the four teams that played in Milan and Turin, Italy. Fourth placed Belgium were as good as winners France in their semifinal matchup. Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps will be the first to tell you the event winners thrived on the knife edge. In both the semifinal win over Belgium and final triumph over Spain, the World Cup winners were within minutes of defeat. It tells of the mental strength his team has built since winning Russia 2018 that the World Cup winners were able to pull the rabbit out of the hat on both occasions.
2- French love propels Pogba
Even the least accomplished sports psychologist can tell from miles away that France midfield maestro Paul Pogba is a completely different player when he dons the tricolor to the inconsistent protagonist we all see at Manchester United. It could be his Les Bleus mates are the better technicians which helps bring the best out of him. But the more plausible theory is that Pogba is propelled by the adoration shown to him in the national team set up. For instance, whereas his weekly changes in hairstyle are greeted with derision by Old Trafford faithfuls and legends, in France they are hailed as evidence he is a creative stylist. United must show Pogba more love.
3- Enrique got his subs wrong
Spain boss Luis Enrique lost the Uefa Nations League final because he got his subs wrong. The sub that took off Rodri and brought on Koke opened up Spain’s defense, allowing the hitherto subdued Kylian Mbappe to run riot in the final 15 minutes. France would have been tied in knots had Koke joined Sergio Busquets and Rodri. The sub that brought on Yeremy Mina was meanwhile an exercise in futility. He was superb in holding possession in the semifinal victory over Italy because his team led 2-0 but carried no punch with Spain trailing in the dying embers of the final.
4- Pau Torres, Kimpembe, Kounde starters
Sevilla defender Jules Kounde has undergone full rehabilitation since his sending off cost Les Bleus maximum points in a World Cup qualifier against Bosnia. He was calmness personified on the right hand side of a back three along with Raphael Varane and Pressnel Kimpembe, who showed Deschamps he’s a better option than Luca Hernandez. Villarreal skipper Torres’ absence was also noticeable as La Roja failed to subdue Benzema and Mbappe late on. Torres is better than Eric Garcia at the minute.
5- Lukaku to bag Belgium century
Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku has intermittently unfairly taken loads of slack from his detractors. But the Belgian star is among the top five number nines in world football. 69 goals in 100 appearances for Belgium is, for example, a better goals per game return in international football than the great Lionel Messi has managed for Argentina. Better still, he is 28 and has no record of injuries. Romelu Bolingoli Lukaku will definitely break the one hundred goal barrier.