The last day of FIFA’s questionably timed — is there any other kind? — international break has come and gone, which means that we’ll actually have a coupe days truly free of any football of note (unless you’re big into the US Open Cup or the Brasileirão or the Uzbek League or ... yeah, the football never stops) before the U21 Euros start on Friday and the Confederations Cup begins on Saturday.
The big headliner as far as we were concerned was the France vs. England friendly, full of pomp and circumstance and VIPs and a couple touching moments prior to kick-off including the entire Stade de France singing ‘God Save The Queen’ in memory of the victims of the recent London and Manchester attacks.
England, firmly on the 3-4-3 bandwagon, lined up with Phil Jones, John Stones, and England’s Brave Gary Cahill (once again sans armband) in what was nominally a defense with Eric Dier and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain pretending to be midfielders in front of them. Needless to say, France had a lovely time carving open the back five on a regular basis on their way to a 3-2 win, even after going down to 10-men early in the second half. Harry Kane completed his brace from the resulting penalty, with Raphaël Varane getting his marching orders for the Ivanović-esque (“accidental”) tangle of legs, but France found the third goal from one of their neverending supply of young Dembélés, who was just one exciting aspect of a team full of future promise for Les Bleus. Kylian Mbappé may have been kept off the scoresheet, but he did his €100m+ valuation no harm, for example.
As impressive as France were, England were just the opposite. Stones, Cahill, Dier, and The Ox were particularly bad and if Cahill contemplated retirement after falling badly for one of Pogba’s myriad tricks, we wouldn’t blame him. Obviously EBGC is made of sterner stuff than that, but this was still hilarious.
Cahill also made a right mess of France’s winning goal (you, too, Eric Dier) and helped out Chelsea teammate N’Golo Kanté by providing him with an opportunity to show off his interception skills to create a great chance for France, who were, it’s worth reminding, playing a man down.
Again, Cahill was not the only England player to struggle — there were plenty of clownshoes to go around — and he probably wasn’t even the worst offender, but this cap was not one to hang proudly above the mantle.
But enough negativity, let’s look at a couple better performances from all the way down under, where Brazil made short work of Australia in a 4-0 friendly win. A goal after something like 0.4 seconds set Brazil on their way, while a 20-minute cameo from a yet again impressive Willian played a big role in doubling the score from 2-0.
If you watched those highlights, you will have noticed a certain curly haired hero setting up a disallowed goal and then also hitting the crossbar with a header. That’s right, David Luiz got to wear the famous shirt for the first time in well over a year, ending his exile in classy style, albeit deployed as a defensive midfielder rather than a center back (Brazil played with a classic back-four). Here’s an individual highlights / all-touches video of Sideshow, the love of our lives.
Thus ends the last action of the 2016-17 season. Onwards and upwards!