June 22, 2024
  • June 22, 2024
Canada Stephen Eustaquio

Analysis: Canada Hold France to a Resilient Draw in Bordeaux

By on June 9, 2024 0 662 Views

In the wake of the match against the Netherlands, it could have gone from bad to worse in this game.

But instead, on Sunday evening in a packed out Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux, the Canadian Men’s National Team held the #2 FIFA Ranked French National Team to a 0-0 draw after both sides cancel each other out.

A More Level Performance from Canada

Part of the issue that became apparent from Canada’s performance against the Dutch is that, while the began with lots of energy and intensity, they were not able to sustain it for the entire match, meaning they got punished heavily in the second half.

Against an arguably stronger side, head coach Jesse Marsch had his side start with a more temperate strategy, where instead of pressing them super high and aggressively pestering the French in the opening stages, they tried to play on the break after winning the ball back deep.

“We tried to take some lessons from the game against the Dutch,” remarked Marsch on his team’s performance against France. “I thought for the most part, our tactical discipline was very good and we tried to be really clear of the steps needed to play better against these type of opponents. We executed that better today”.

The opening 30 minutes or so were quite shaky, forcing Max Crepeau, who was the only change in the squad between the two matches, into some stellar early saves. But then, the team eventually settled into the match and began playing a vintage chess match against one of the World’s footballing superpowers.

Second half gave way to a more inspired showing, with various players growing in confidence and showcasing their skills with thousands watching. The passing was slicker, the positioning and rotations were more organized in the build-up and the defensive structure from the likes of Derek Cornelius and Moise Bombito held firm.

“It was a big step forward, but there is still so much work to be done” admitted Marsch. “What I liked was that a lot of the individual behaviours were clearer today than against the Dutch, and the collective organization for what we wanted to do in all phases of the game was better. But there is still a lot to do to get even better.”

And while Canada was unable to get any shots on target, their overall performance was leagues ahead of what they achieved in Rotterdam on Thursday, giving them – and all fans across the world – a huge boost ahead of the start of Copa America in 11 days.

Ismael Kone: A Shining Performance

One player in particular that really came into his own in this match was Ismael Kone. Kone has played in a double pivot alongside captain Stephen Eustaquio in these two matches but took a more starring role in this game against France.

The 21-year-old midfielder was a handful for France, as he began to float through the midfield once he gained that confidence, gliding past players like Eduardo Camavinga, N’golo Kante, and more. Across 84 minutes, Kone completed 93% of his passes (41/44), won 62% of his ground duels (8/13), made two tackles, two recoveries, created one chance, and won five fouls, one of which forced Real Madrid star Camavinga earn a yellow.

On Kone’s stellar display, Marsch actually challenged everyone to stop treating him like a kid, a more like a full-fledged professional player. “He’s a young player, but he doesn’t act like it, and that’s the key,” explained Marsch to media. “I’ve tried to ask them to think about what they think a young player is, because for me 22-years old is pro. It’s [now] time to develop as a real pro by playing at high levels.”

Rumours have already been flying about whether Kone will stay at Watford or look to make a move for a Top 5 League, but a performance like tonight will surely keep those fires stoked for what might be yet another Canadian world-beater in the making.

Still Lacking Firepower Up Front

As Marsch mentioned in the post-match, while the positives were gleaming for Canada after such a tremendous draw against the French, there are still plenty of aspects to work on. One of the biggest ones is the attack. Liam Millar was arguably the most dangerous player for Canada in the match, as he came closest to opening the score with a curled effort that clanged off the crossbar in the second half. But that was the only effort that threatened Mike Maignan’s goal all game.

Dynamic duo Cyle Larin and Jonathan David were rather quiet in front of goal. For the latter, he was at least more active and dynamic in the build-up, dropping into space to pick up the ball and help the attack move from one side of the pitch to the other. But for the record top-goalscorer, he felt invisible for all of the 71 minutes that was on the pitch. He had the least touches out of any of the starting Canadian team with 28, and only had two in the opposition half. There was a lack of risk-taking from the attack, as there were plenty of opportunities to threaten had someone made a gamble by making a late run or a quick movement.

Larin’s massive miss against the Dutch in the last game will also pile pressure on the striker as he looks to try to stay as the starting striker for Copa. With Theo Bair, newly-minted Tani Oluwaseyi, and Ikr Ugbo biting at Larin’s heels after impressive league campaigns, Jesse Marsch might need to make some big calls ahead of the opening match against Argentina if he is to get some more bite to his attack.

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