Euro 2020: France’s win over Germany shows how Didier Deschamps’ loyalty to his players pays off

France’s 1-0 win over Germany in Munich was the perfect start to Les Bleus’ 2020

France’s 1-0 win over Germany in Munich was the perfect start to Les Bleus’ 2020 UEFA European Championship campaign. It was a performance that set the tone for what could turn out to be a successful summer for Didier Deschamps and his players.

Although Mats Hummels’ own goal in the 20th minute ultimately made the difference at Allianz Arena, there were excellent displays across the pitch from several Frenchmen and Raphael Varane was up there with Paul Pogba as arguably the most impressive.

Deschamps’ loyalty towards the likes of the Real Madrid and Manchester United men has been questioned at times in the build-up to Euro 2020, but the response both gave in Germany has already offered some vindication for the 52-year-old.

Varane shook off a lengthy period below his best at club level to show that he is still capable of 2018 FIFA World Cup greatness while Pogba regularly looks like a different player when on international duty with N’Golo Kante as his regular midfield partner.

“We all made effort,” said Pogba after the final whistle. “This win is for everyone, not only those who were on the pitch. Everyone was talking before the Euros, favorites or not favorites, group of death and that. We are focused on what has to be done on the pitch.”

It is not only Varane and Pogba who benefitted from Deschamps’ loyalty, but also Barcelona’s Antoine Griezmann and Paris Saint-Germain’s Presnel Kimpembe as both have also struggled with their respective teams this season.

Adrien Rabiot starting over Corentin Tolisso in midfield did show that Deschamps does not base everything on loyalty as the Bayern Munich man had to settle for a cameo appearance as the French were closing shop after Karim Benzema had a late effort ruled out.

The Juventus man’s defensive effort could not be faulted while Griezmann knows Deschamps’ approach intricately and never fails to put himself at the disposal of the team. Extracting that understanding and commitment is perhaps where the 1998 FIFA World Cup and 2000 UEFA Euro-winning captain truly succeeds most as a coach.

Loyalty and respect are mutual between Deschamps and his players and only he can get them to sacrifice and contribute at international level the way they often do not with their respective clubs by knitting them together in a system that is extremely tough to break down.

“There was expectation around us and we knew that,” said Rabiot after the game. “We suffered sometimes but we did not concede anything. We had mental and collective strength. We are very proud of this match.

“We did not let our heads dropped, we were a real team on the pitch, we felt that on the pitch, across all the lines. That is what the coach wanted; we are truly happy. Deschamps has brought about tactical rigor and I have been learning it over the last two seasons.

“It augurs well for what is to come. We had to show up, we were the last team to play. We had to send a message.”

If this summer goes according to plan, and the Germany result is the perfect start, then France will grow into this Euro like they did the 2018 World Cup in Russia and possibly save their best football for the latter stages.

Obviously, they face a much harder group here than 2018 with the likes of Australia, Peru and Denmark, and that dictates that Deschamps will likely be more pragmatic than ever but favoring Rabiot over Tolisso, as an example, shows that any risks will be calculated.

Also, particularly against Hungary, the side likely to be the weak link in the group, expect to see Deschamps let the attack off the leash a little more as Benzema chases his first competitive goal since returning to the fold and Kylian Mbappe gets more freedom in attack.

If a similarly measured approach to the one that we saw against Germany is required of France against Portugal, then Deschamps will not hesitate to implement it. If it produces the same results, then few — if any — will question it as the French look to make good on their favorites tag by navigating this loaded Group F.