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Kazakhstan-France: a journey to (really) get off on the right foot



After the quack against Ukraine, the Blues discover for the first time in their history the Kazakh capital. With the intention of finally starting the qualification campaign for the 2022 World Cup.

If travel trains the youth, as Montaigne assured, the world champions may get their money’s worth this Sunday in Kazakhstan. After more than seven hours by plane, nearly 6,000 kilometers of journey, a significant time difference between Paris and Noursoultan (+ 5 hours) and a winter temperature announced between 0 ° C and -11 ° C (at the start of the winter, they are around – 35 ° C and – 40 ° C, but the stadium, whose roof will be closed, will offer 15 degrees to the players), the first trip of the French team to Kazakh soil ticks all the boxes of the real journey. And a trap match par excellence against the 122nd nation in the world (3 p.m., TF1). Not that the men of Didier Deschamps – already well scalded by the hitch Wednesday night at the Stade de France against Ukraine (1-1) – have to fear the level of their hosts of the day, but the vagueness remains on the ability of the Blues to present themselves fresh and motivated on the lawn of the synthetic field of the Astana Arena.

Appreciating his status as a world champion is good. Taking it on is even better

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We are not going to lie to each other, in a hellish calendar with matches every three days and for many internationals the prospect of the Champions League quarter-finals looming after the international window, this trip to the heart of the second capital the coldest in the world, behind Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, is not exciting. Even less sexy. But that’s also the life of a selection player. With a daily life not always synonymous with rhinestones and sequins. Above all, the qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar (November 21-December 18) goes through this kind of meeting that the France team does not have the right to take from above. Even with such service and a second star hanging on the jersey. Appreciating his status is good. Taking it on is even better. For an eternal restart.

Some internationals are playing their place at the Euro

A second quack, after that seen in the middle of the week, against a relatively weak opponent but who will appear fresh for not having played three days earlier, would have a bad effect. It would even be difficult to explain to the players who make up the ranks of the world champion selection. Not to come away from Kazakhstan with a victory would be akin to professional misconduct. Which could have huge consequences for the players aligned and some whose presence on the famous list of twenty-three for the Euro (June 11-July 11) is not yet assured. The Blues are not there to go sightseeing or scratch a few miles for their future vacation, but to enforce the hierarchy. Nothing else.

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Eager to “not take any risk” and “not to endanger” the health of his protégés in the face of hellish rates but also a synthetic surface always difficult to grasp, Didier Deschamps already warned Wednesday evening that he would benefit from this long journey to make changes. With the desire to breathe some relief before the shock against Bosnia next Wednesday, but also so as to concern the whole of his group. Only N’Golo Kanté, injured against Ukraine, did not make the trip and returned to his London home. Players like Lucas Digne, Léo Dubois, Clément Lenglet, Paul Pogba, Tanguy Ndombélé or even Ousmane Démbélé and Anthony Martial should have their say. “We will need freshness for this meeting, advance the coach, unhappy with the performance of his troops in midweek and disappointed by his offensive formula. There is general physical fatigue, I don’t want to complain but we have to adapt. The opportunity is perfect to relaunch the blue machine for a first visit to Kazakh soil. Whatever we say, old or young, travel always forges something. Charge to the Blues to leave here with beautiful memories. And the feeling of a successful journey.

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