France did not need Olivier Giroud’s magnificent beard to brush aside Roberto Mancini’s Italy in Friday night’s World Cup warm-up friendly in Nice, though the Chelsea striker did play the final quarter of an hour. The match was long done and dusted by then, as goals from Samuel Umtiti, Antoine Griezmann, and Ousmane Dembele were more than enough to outclass the Azzurri, who did get one back from Leonardo Bonucci but were distinctly second best on the night.
Manager Didier Deschamps opted for a much more first-choice lineup this time than last time out against Republic of Ireland, which meant that N’Golo Kante took his rightful spot in the center of midfield, flanked on either side by Paul Pogba and Corentin Tolisso. Kante was his standard self of excellence as he played the full 90 in what was his 23rd cap. France have tasted defeat in just two friendlies and have yet to lose a competitive match with him in the lineup. Others garnering solid praise for Les Bleus included the aforementioned Dembele, Tolisso, as well as Kylian Mbappe.
Kanté vs Italie:— Stats Foot (@Statsdufoot) June 1, 2018
71 ballons joués
86,2% passes réussies
7 ballons récupérés
BONUS: Kanté also hit the post with one his typical daisy-cutters and here’s a highlight of that.
France’s 3-1 win gives them two wins from two in warm-up friendlies; they will face the United States next weekend in their final preparatory match for the World Cup. Nothing we’ve seen from France dissuades the notion of them being one of the biggest favorites for the title this summer in Russia.
Elsewhere, Chelsea loan army admiral Tomas Kalas collected his 12th cap (and third in the last four games) but his Czech Republic were dismantled by Australia 4-0 in St. Pölten, Austria.
And earlier this week, Wilfredo Caballero solidified his chances of being Argentina’s first-choice goalkeeper this summer as he backstopped an easy 4-0 win over Haiti. Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick, presumably playing at about 60 per cent effort.