The statistic is revealing: the last four matches played without the PSG player at kick-off have ended in as many failures for the vice-champions of the world (2 draws, 2 losses). An observation that has enough to torment Didier Deschamps less than a year before Euro-2024.

The coach would have liked to see new elements reveal themselves on the momentum of the World Cup-2022 but he must for the moment disillusion, no one having managed to impose himself or to take volume to support Mbappe, or even to relay him when he is not available.

The captain of the Blues, spared against the Germans because of discomfort in the patellar tendon and in view of the big deadlines to come with his club (receptions of Nice on Friday in Ligue 1, Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on September 19, clasico against OM on September 24 at the Parc des Princes), was able to observe from the bench the difficulty of seeing options emerge in attack.

If it is natural that the face of the team is changed when a player of Mbappe's size is not present on the pitch, the weakness of the offensive animation without the crack of Bondy raises questions in view of the European Championship (June 14-July 14, 2024 in Germany).

To complicate the situation a little more, Deschamps had also had to do without the services of Olivier Giroud in Dortmund, forfeit on injury. But from the top of his almost 37 years, the top scorer in the history of the selection (54 achievements) has no rival to his measure.

The Kolo Muani interrogation

Randal Kolo Muani is the one who most aspires to dislodge the veteran from his position as No. 1 centre-forward but with one goal in 10 caps, he is still very far from the goal and his best performances in the France team have been in a substitute status, as in the semi-finals and final of the World Cup in Qatar. When it comes to leading the Blues' attack from start to finish in a match, the bar is still too high for the 24-year-old neo-Parisian, just like his catastrophic performance in Germany.

German defender Niklas Suele, left, battles with French striker Randal Kolo Muani during the friendly match between Germany and France on September 12, 2023 Dortmund © Sascha Schuermann / AFP

Does the former Eintracht Frankfurt player, bought at a golden price by PSG (90 million euros), have the international level? The question remains more relevant than ever.

"There are still things to work on. When these two (Mbappé and Giroud, editor's note) are not there, you never know what can happen. Through the matches we have, if we want to win them all, a large part of the players need to have playing time compared to the deadlines that are ours. But the goal and the requirement remain the same, "said Deschamps after the match lost, before being more conciliatory vis-à-vis Kolo Muani, who arrived at the rally with a sprained right ankle.

"He was back competing, he went more than 15 days without a game, a week without training," he said. He's not at his best. He didn't do everything perfectly but with the sequence of matches, he is able to do very good things. He had difficulties in finishing."

Without Mbappé or Giroud, Antoine Griezmann also lacked marks, multiplying technical fouls, and Ousmane Dembélé was as usual very clumsy in the last gesture despite his disconcerting ability to make differences ball at the foot. Among the offensive understudies, only Kingsley Coman seems the most consistent.

Between now and the Euro, Deschamps will have to cross his fingers to see the emergence of replacements worthy of the name in attack and hope that Kolo Muani takes advantage of his transfer to PSG and his proximity in Paris with Mbappé and Dembélé to move upmarket. To avoid going back to Germany in less than a year without a credible plan B.

© 2023 AFP