Les Bleus may have been held to a 0-0 draw by Denmark in their third Group C outing, but Didier Deschamps' men nonetheless secured top spot, allowing them to avoid Group D's winner in the round of 16.
Tuesday, 26 June, 2018
FIFA World Cup 2018 Group C, Matchday 3
Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
Denmark 0 - 0 France
Deschamps made six changes to the side that beat Peru 1-0, handing starts to Ligue 1 Conforama stars Presnel Kimpembe, Djibril Sidibé and Steve Mandanda as well as Atlético-bound Thomas Lemar, and while this line-up proved solid in defence, they struggled to break down a resolute and compact Danish back-line.
Half-chances for Olivier Giroud (15') and Ousmane Dembélé (33') for France and Christian Erikson (29') for Denmark were the closest anyone came to scoring in the first half, and little changed after the break. Erikson (54') and France sub Nabil Fekir (82') traded efforts but a scoreless draw always seemed the most likely result.
That France didn't manage to make it three wins from three matches was not unusual - the same thing happened at the 2014 World Cup and in Euro 2016 - but their struggles in attack were.
Clinching top spot in Group C was Les Bleus' stated objective but doubtless Deschamps was hoping to use this lower-stakes match to finally get his side - who tore opposition defences apart in qualifying - to hit their straps as the business end of the tournament approaches quickly.
THE PLAYER: Antoine Griezmann
Seen as France's attacking keystone heading into the tournament, Griezmann once again failed to make an impact for Les Bleus, prompting coach Didier Deschamps to sub him off for Olympique Lyonnais' Fekir earlier than usual (69'). The France boss has been tinkering with his line-up throughout the tournament and the friendlies that preceded it, always finding a place for Griezmann, but will the Atlético star's place be secure for the round of 16 clash against the likes of Nigeria or Argentina?
THE STAT: 37
World football fans had 36 matches with at least one goal scored at the FIFA World Cup 2018 before France and Denmark cooked up the tournament's first 0-0 draw. Les Bleus had been hoping to hit their straps in attack and make it three wins from three group-stage matches for just the second time in their history - the first time being in 1998, when they won football's top prize on home soil.