France let it slip
By S. Willis
Substitute Antoine Griezmann looked to have sealed the deal with his late opener, but France's defence lapsed in the final minute and Paraguay clinched a 1-1 draw in Les Bleus' second of three World Cup warm-up matches.
Sunday, June 1, 2014
Allianz Riviera, Nice
France 1 - 1 Paraguay
After trouncing Norway 4-0 on Tuesday, France were looking to continue their World Cup preparations with another strong performance, against Paraguay at the Allianz Riviera in Nice. However, despite dominating, Didier Deschamps' were left regretting missed chances after Victor Caceres cancelled out Griezmann's opener (82')with a free-kick in the final minute (89').
In the injury absence of Franck Ribéry (back)on France's left wing, Deschamps started Newcastle forward Loïc Rémy but it was substitute Antoine Griezmann who made a case for his getting the nod should Ribéry miss the World Cup as he broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion.
Lurking on the edge of the area, the U-20 World Cup winner was on hand when Olivier Giroud's downward header was parried by Paraguay 'keeper Anthony Silva. Griezmann took his time in the packed area before whipping a curling, dipping shot over the crowd and inside Silva's far post (82').
The goal was welcome relief for France who, after eighty minutes of dominating play with a confident brand of possession football, might have been wondering whether they could break down a Paraguay defence who had bent but not broken under serious pressure from France's hard-hitting, clean-passing midfield and powerful, pacy forwards.
Rémy, who scored against Norway, was in the thick of the first-half action but couldn't make the break, firing wide from Mathieu Valbuena's pass (9') and grazing the bar with an acrobatic volley after Olivier Giroud - who backed up his two-goal turn against Norway with another strong performance - had bamboozled the Paraguay defence on the right (32').
France slip up
The South Americans signalled their intent to get back into the game early in the second half as Miguel Samudio tested France captain Hugo Lloris with a free-kick that pierced the wall (52'), but France continued to hog the headlines as Valbuena and Giroud combined well for the Arsenal man to force a corner from Silva (59').
France upped the ante as the half played out, but Paraguay - who beat Cameroon 2-1 on Thursday - pushed back at the death, earning a free-kick 40 metres out in the final minute. Perhaps the goal owed more to France's poor positioning - Deschamps men attempted to maintain a line just forward of the penalty area - than to the danger of veteran Victor Caceres' shot, but with Lloris beset by Paraguay forwards, the ball sailed through the area, off the Tottenham 'keeper and in for the equaliser (89').
France's third and final World Cup warm-up will be played against Jamaica in Lille's Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Sunday, June 8.