The Blues are not starting their League of Nations campaign in the best way. Defending champions, the France team was held in check by Croatia (1-1), during the second day of the League of Nations Monday, June 6 in Split. She therefore has a second unsuccessful meeting after her defeat against Denmark (1-2) on Friday.

With a greatly overhauled workforce, Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann being left on the bench at kick-off, the Blues opened the scoring thanks to Adrien Rabiot (52nd) in the second half. But on a penalty caused by Jonathan Clauss, Andrej Kamaric (83rd) equalized for the Croats less than ten minutes from the end of the game.

And without the masterful parades of Mike Maignan (71st, 87th), the men of Didier Deschamps would have left the Balkans with a zero point. With one point in two games, France is nevertheless very seriously complicating the task of qualifying for the “Final 4”. We will have to react on Friday in Austria, before welcoming the Croats on June 13 for the return leg.

In Vienna on Friday, the atmosphere may not be as overheated as that of the Poljud stadium, Hajduk Split’s open-air lair, nestled between the Mosor massif and the Adriatic Sea. This setting, unprecedented for France, gave ideas to coach Didier Deschamps, eager to “raise his head” such as to preserve the organisms put to the test by the heat and an exhausting season.

At kick-off, he only sent two world champions, Benjamin Pavard and Presnel Kimpembe, and only one survivor of the defeat against the Danes, Aurélien Tchouaméni. Mbappé, still embarrassed on one knee, did not even warm up. Even the tireless Antoine Griezmann was spared at kick-off, a first in 22 games, before coming into play for the last half hour.

But after eight games in a row in 3-5-2, the most unexpected adjustment concerned the tactical scheme, with the return of the system of the World Cup-2018 final: seven defensive players and a four-man defense. If the objective of the evening was to regain solidity after the breaches seen against the Danes, it was only partially achieved, with an end to the game to forget and multiple inaccuracies at the start of the match, which could have cost very expensive.

Even Aurélien Tchouaméni, usually sober and precise despite his 22 years, was clumsy by losing a few balls, like Benjamin Pavard and William Saliba. Until the penalty, the Blues systematically found a way to erase their mistakes and make up for their blunders, in particular thanks to the vigilance of their evening captain, Presnel Kimpembe.

The Parisian was precious, like his former PSG partner Moussa Diaby, very available and close to opening the scoring with a shot deflected by Dominik Livakovic (39th). Opposite, the vibrant songs of the 30,000 Croatian supporters guided the “Vatreni” also in reconquest after suffering a humiliation at home on Friday, against Austria (3-0).

The local attraction, logically, was called Luka Modric. The Real Madrid playmaker, recently crowned European champion, started his evening with a nice hug with Benzema, before receiving a huge tribute, tifo in support, for his 150th selection. He even almost scored on a long shot, stopped by Maignan. And he was able to gloat over the equalizer, twelve minutes later from the sidelines, alongside the whole stadium, happy as after a victory.