Bayern Munich was heavily represented in today’s European Cup Qualifier between France and Iceland. World Cup-winners Clorentin Tolisso and Benjamin Pavard started alongside Kingsley Coman, who missed the competition in 2018 due to injury. Lucas Hernandez was included in the squad but sat on the bench because of further injury to his knee in training.
France and Iceland came into this contest in 2nd and 3rd place with 15 and 12 points respectively (group H). Turkey leads the group with 15 points, beating France on a tiebreaker. France won their first meeting with Iceland 4-0. Kingsley Coman started the match as France’s leading goalscorer this campaign, tied with Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud and Paris Saint Germain’s Kylian Mbappé with 3 goals. Plenty of drama between Bayern Munich and the French Federation preceded the match over the calling up of injured defender Lucas Hernandez.
Coman and Pavard connected early in the match. Coman, playing on the right wing, fed the overlapping Benjamin Pavard, playing right-back, to win the game’s first corner. Tolisso saw the ball early and often. He frequently dropped back to become the deepest midfielder in front of the back line, feeding passes to teammates.
Iceland did well to surround Coman with two or three defenders, stopping him from sending in a cross or cut to the goal. The first half ended goalless with only three combined shots on target, all easily saved. France dominated possession but Iceland stayed compact and defended well.
The second half started more open, but there was not a single shot on target for over twenty minutes until Antoine Griezmann won France a penalty kick. Olivier Giroud easily slotted the PK in the corner to open up the scoring 1-0.
Benjamin Pavard played well defensively but did not join the attack very often. He committed one tactical foul that earned him a yellow card, but otherwise did well to combine with teammates in the build-up.
Kingsley Coman was able to find more space in the second half. He had an excellent move to beat an Icelandic defender 1v1, then sent in a low-cross to Blaise Matuidi, whose shot ricocheted off the post. Although Coman did not have the greatest of performances, he put in a lot of hard work pressing the opponent, making runs down the flanks, and interchanging with rest of the French attack. He primarily played on the right wing but also often moved to the left to make himself available in the attack. He was subbed out in the 88th minute.
Tolisso was not as active in the second half as in the first. He did well getting in passing lanes, breaking up play, and dropping deep where he facilitated much of the offense. Tolisso drew tons of fouls, as well. France’s midfield just did not look the same, as Paul Pogba and Ngole Kante missed the game due to injury.
Overall, France dominated the game in possession and had the more dangerous chances, most of them coming after France went up 1-0 when the game opened up. Without the injured Mbappé and Pogba, France did not look like their normal selves, but they did enough to earn three points. All of the Bayern Munich players played well.