The excitement goes back several months: in June 2022, the French remain on a series of seven straight victories when they approach their last internship of the 2021-2022 season.
But suddenly everything stops, the injuries follow one another and they end the exercise with two draws and two defeats.
In September, the physical glitches are still numerous and a rejuvenated team falls apart 2-0 in Denmark, leading coach Didier Deschamps to abandon his system of three central defenders in view of his list for the World Cup.
Deprived of Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kanté, "DD" takes the risk of calling up physically impaired players like Karim Benzema, Raphaël Varane and Presnel Kimpembe.
Finally, the latter gives up and is replaced by the rookie Axel Disasi on the first day of the rally.
As a precaution, a 26th player is summoned: Marcus Thuram.
This reinforcement proves to be judicious in attack after the withdrawal of Christopher Nkunku, injured at Clairefontaine (and replaced by Randal Kolo Muani), and especially that of the Ballon d'Or Karim Benzema, hit in the thigh in Doha, a huge blow for Blues.
Reaction and solidity
The bad luck continued from the first match against Australia (4-1): Lucas Hernandez seriously injured his knee after nine minutes, the Socceroos scored in stride and the world champion defender left the tournament, replaced in the typical team by his brother Theo.
Blues left-back Lucas Hernandez injured in the first match against Australia at Al-Wakrah Stadium, south of Doha, November 22, 2022 © Chandan KHANNA / AFP/Archives
The captains provide the essentials: Olivier Giroud, propelled to the forefront of the attack in the absence of Benzema, scores twice to equal the goal record of Thierry Henry (51), Adrien Rabiot shines alongside Antoine Griezmann , converted into a midfielder and also sparkling.
Kylian Mbappé made a great start with two goals against Denmark (2-1), a match where vice-captain Raphaël Varane played again, a month after his thigh injury.
One fall, two averted cleavers
In anticipation of the expected long course, Deschamps takes advantage of the qualification already acquired to bring in his substitutes in the third game.
Wahbi Khazri and Tunisia win 1-0 despite Antoine Griezmann's equalizer canceled by video refereeing after the final whistle.
Whatever, the coach oxygenated his group with playing time for the "hairdressers" and rest for his executives.
Tunisian Wahbi Khazri defeats the French defense at Al-Rayyan Stadium, west of Doha, November 30, 2022 © ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP/Archives
The Blues easily eliminated Robert Lewandowski's Poland (3-1) in the round of 16 then faced Harry Kane's England in the quarters.
Tight, tense and undecided, the summit against the reigning European vice-champions was won 2-1 on a header from Giroud, who overtook Henry in the pantheon of French scorers.
The equalizing penalty sent in the clouds by Kane at the end of the match represents the perfect symbol of the psychological battle won by the band at Deschamps.
- Cold -
The lights are green before facing Morocco, surprise semi-finalists and the first African team to reach this level.
But a virus invites itself to the Blues, with the first contaminated Dayot Upamecano then Adrien Rabiot.
Facing the Atlas Lions (2-0), the first is replaced by Ibrahima Konaté in the starting lineup and the second remains at the hotel, package and in isolation.
Kingsley Coman, the attacking joker, remains on the bench after having "also felt a little excitement", according to the coach.
The French team saved by Hugo Lloris against Morocco in the semi-final of the World Cup in Al Khor, north of Doha, on December 14, 2022 © Franck FIFE / AFP/Archives
The French, shaken by Morocco and its tide of supporters, made the difference at the very start of the match by Theo Hernandez (5th) and in the last quarter of an hour after a festival of Mbappé well exploited by Kolo Muani (79th), decisive forty-four seconds after coming into play.
Before the legendary final against Argentina, lost on penalties on Sunday, Varane and Konaté are also affected by the virus.
© 2022 AFP