Olivier Giroud came off the bench to score a brace as France defeated Bulgaria 3-0 in their final friendly before the start of the European Championship.
French manager Didier Deschamps has seemingly made up his mind about the core of his team. The world champions made just one change to the side that saw off Wales, with N’Golo Kante coming in for Adrien Rabiot.
France expectedly started the game brightly and went close through Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema before Antoine Griezmann put the hosts ahead with a close-range finish in the 29th minute.
The Barcelona man almost doubled his side’s lead five minutes before halftime, but Daniel Naumov pulled off a stunning save to keep him at bay.
Benzema was later substituted with what appeared to be a knee injury after the Real Madrid forward challenged for the ball with Ivan Turitsov. With less than a week to go until the start of the Euros, this is far from the ideal position for France to be in.
A raft of changes at the start of the second half saw both sides struggle to create much rhythm. However, France entered second gear in the final 10 minutes as Olivier Giroud made sure of the result with two fine finishes inside the box.
The victory means that the favorites for Euro 2020 picked up routine wins in their two preparatory games, although fans of the world champions will be sweating on the fitness of Benzema.
Here is a rundown of how the French players fared against Bulgaria.
France player ratings against Bulgaria
Hugo Lloris – 6/10
The French goalkeeper was a spectator for most of the game and did not have a single save to make.
Lucas Hernandez – 6.5/10
The Bayern Munich man helped provide width for France on the left flank. However, he was far from his creative best before being replaced by Lucas Digne at the break.
Presnel Kimpembe – 6/10
France’s utter dominance of the game meant that Presnel Kimpembe did not have to do much defending. He did step up to make crucial challenges on the rare occasions that Bulgaria ventured forward.
Raphael Varane – 6.5/10
The Real Madrid man was one of only four French outfield players to have played the full 90 minutes. He played his role in helping France keep a clean sheet.
Benjamin Pavard – 7.5/10
France enjoyed much success down their right flank and much of that had to do with Benjamin Pavard’s industry. The Bayern Munich man ended his night with an assist for Olivier Giroud’s first goal.
Paul Pogba – 7/10
Paul Pogba undoubtedly plays some of his best football in French colors. He was his usual domineering self against Bulgaria. He helped the hosts dictate the tempo of the game.
N’Golo Kante – 7/10
The Chelsea man was handed a rest in the victory over Wales following his exertion in the UEFA Champions League final. He covered almost every blade of grass on the field before his substitution in the 65th minute.
Corentin Tolisso – 7/10
Corentin Tolisso helped France dominate proceedings in the middle of the park with his distribution. He was replaced by Moussa Sissoko with six minutes to go.
Antoine Griezmann – 7.5/10
Antoine Griezmann showed great awareness to score the opening goal and put the Bulgarian defense on the backfoot until his substitution.
Kylian Mbappe – 6.5/10
Kylian Mbappe put in an industrious display against Bulgaria and was unlucky not to find the back of the net.
Karim Benzema – 5.5/10
Karim Benzema lasted only 40 minutes on the field but made his presence felt before he suffered a knock that puts his participation at the Euros in doubt.
Olivier Giroud – 8.5/10
Olivier Giroud replaced Benzema in the first half and ended the game with a brace. This moves him to 46 goals in the colors of France and five goals closer to record goalscorer Thierry Henry.
Lucas Digne – 6/10
The Everton man came on for Hernandez at halftime and offered more penetration in attack.
Thomas Lemar – 5.5/10
Thomas Lemar came on with 25 minutes to go and helped bring fresh legs to the French attack.
Ousmane Dembele – 6/10
Ousmane Dembele replaced his club teammate Antoine Griezmann in the 65th minute.
Wissam Ben Yedder – 7/10
Despite being on the field for only six minutes, Ben Yedder still registered an assist after teeing up Giroud for the third goal.
Moussa Sissoko – 5.5/10
The Tottenham Hotspur man came on in the 84th minute and helped add extra solidity in midfield.
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