In front of 50,000 excited spectators in a packed Aviva Stadium, the Blues made the round back to win a second consecutive victory in these qualifiers, less convincing than Friday's large success against the Netherlands (4-0), but that it was necessary to go for with other ingredients: heart and guts.

As a symbol, it is a man of the past and a man of the future who have carried the France to this narrow success: the returning Benjamin Pavard and the new goalkeeper N.1 Mike Maignan.

He made two exceptional parries at the very end of the match, to maintain the advantage obtained by the Bavarian in the 50th minute of a dry strike.

The accounting operation is perfect for the pragmatic Didier Deschamps: this trip to the Republic of Ireland allows the Blues to escape at the top of their qualifying group, three points ahead of Greece and the Netherlands, both winners of Gibraltar during this break.

The weak Mediterranean nation will be on the France agenda at the next rally in June, as will Greece in Saint-Denis: two fully accessible prey on the road to the Euro in Germany, from June 14 to July 14, 2024.

Pavard revived

The trip to Ireland, complicated, had the merit of reviving Pavard. Deprived of playing time since the first match of the 2022 World Cup against Australia, stung by the technical staff and downgraded in the hierarchy, the Bavarian freed the Blues from a shot that hit the bar before lodging in the net (50th).

It was no less, in any case, to revive the memories of the 3,000 supporters of the France team gathered in the small north stand of the Aviva stadium.

Captain Kylian Mbappe had taken care to warn, Sunday, that only "adversity" would allow to "see what this team has in the belly". His words may not have referred to the 48th nation in the world, without a big name or outstanding performance in recent years.

French defender Benjamin Pavard scores against Ireland in Dublin, March 27, 2023 © FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Yet it was the Republic of Ireland, and not the Netherlands, that posed the most problems for Didier Deschamps' men, with its line of five intractable defenders, its weak technical waste and its warlike temperament, fanned by the fervor of the 50,000 spectators.

Ten days after Ireland's rugby success in the Six Nations Tournament, it is as if the party had not stopped in Dublin: excited, the "Boys in green" played their score with a precision worthy of the "pipers" - bagpipers - crossed in the streets of the capital.

Giroud and Mbappé less prominent

The last ten minutes, in particular, were untenable in the area of Mike Maignan, who released two fantastic parries back-to-back, on a header from Jules Koundé close to turning into a goal against his side (89th), then in front of a helmet shot from Nathan Collins who took the direction of the skylight (90th).

But the young France team showed experience by being patient, even when Mbappe remained more timid after his double on Friday.

Olivier Giroud little seen with the France team against Ireland in Dublin, March 27, 2023 © FRANCK FIFE / AFP

The Parisian was muzzled by the Irish, but he also suffered from a less solid performance from his left-flank teammates Theo Hernandez and Adrien Rabiot.

Didier Deschamps will also be satisfied with the interesting meeting of Eduardo Camavinga, starting in the middle while he was summoned as a left-back.

That of Olivier Giroud, relaunched in the axis of the attack at 36 years old, will remain more unremarkable compared to the promises of Randal Kolo Muani. In two starts, the Frankfurt player has clearly upset the hierarchy.

© 2023 AFP