This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…
France secured their place at Euro 2020 on Thursday night.
A 2-1 victory was enough for Les Bleus to make it to next year’s competition, but it was far from a stellar performance from Didier Deschamps’ side. It took a late Olivier Giroud penalty to beat Moldova, despite the 2018 World Cup winners having 77% possession.
Giroud was not the only Chelsea player to be included in the starting XI. Alongside him was N’Golo Kante. Despite playing just one match since the last international break, the 28-year-old played the full 90 minutes. Clearly rusty, it was far from an impressive performance from the former Leicester City man.
Playing in defensive midfield in a 4-2-3-1 formation, the £90m-valued star – as per Transfermarkt – was a passenger throughout the match. He did manage one dribble, but he failed to have a single shot at goal, being one of just three outfield French players to do so.
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Defensively, he did make two tackles, but he still wasn’t able to exert the overall influence that he usually does both at club and international level. As such, he picked up a WhoScored rating of 6.74, well below his average of 7.08 in the Premier League this season. In all fairness, that isn’t especially surprising considering that he has played so little football over the past few weeks.
Therefore, it is baffling why Deschamps insisted on making him play the whole match for the second time in less than a week. The 51-year-old was criticised after the last international break by Frank Lampard in regards to his treatment of Kante and the handling of his condition after he had picked up an injury against Iceland, and he was rather prickly in regards to his reasoning of why he selected him in the squad this time around.
Obviously stubborn, he made the wrong call by starting him here. Fortunately, the midfielder did not pick up an injury, but his ability to affect the game was still reduced. Rather than trying to make a point, which is how it came across, Deschamps should have looked after Kante. It may have done both the player and his team the world of good.