Going into today’s World Cup Qualifier, France and Sweden were tied at the top of Group A with 7 points each (also tied on goal differential), meaning that both sides had the potential to go clear at the top.
France would create their first chance of the evening with a Paul Pogba shot that scuffed off his left boot, just wide of the net. That narrow miss would prove to be prophetic, as Les Bleus would create several chances but often fail to finish them off.
Tactically, France came out and played an incredibly high back line; so much so that at times Raphael Varane would find himself in parts of the midfield.
On the other side of the coin, Sweden were more than happy to sit back, absorb pressure, and try to hit their opponents on the counter. In the later stages of the half they would start to to put some pressure on France, which put Les Bleus on the back foot.
This ensured the half ended 0-0, which was surprising considering the lineup Les Bleus put out on the pitch.
The second half saw an early goal from Sweden in the 54th minute, with Emil Forsberg scoring from a set piece. The shot was so powerful, that French keeper Lloris was rooted to his spot, unable to make a play on the ball.
This goal lit a fire under the rear of Les Bleus and pushed them to make a comeback.
In the 57th minute, a silly foul just outside of Sweden's box allowed Dimtri Payet to serve up a nice ball to Paul Pogba, who brought things level (though at first sight it looked like Varane had got his head on it). Then just a mere seven minutes later, a goalkeeping error by Sweden allowed Payet to slap the ball into an empty net, putting Les Bleus up 2-1.
After this, France slowed the pace down and was content to see out the rest of the match. In stoppage time, Pogba picked up a silly yellow, guaranteeing that he will sit out France's next match due to card accumulation.
Final Score: France 2 - 1 Sweden
Raphael Varane’s Performance
Varane got the start next to Laurent Koscielny in the middle of the French defense. He looked solid all night long; he had some nice clearances, a shot on goal and an almost-goal. He looked good tonight and hopefully he can continue that form when he returns to Madrid. However, with Pepe returning, Varane could be fighting for that second CB spot next to Sergio Ramos.
Player Rating: 7.0
France is in action next against the Ivory Coast on Tuesday, November 15th, at 3 est.