Turkey registered their first ever competitive win over France as the reigning world champions were upset in Konya over the weekend. Prior to this clash, the French had lost only one of their last 15 games in European qualifying (against Belarus in 2010), but turned in a lacklustre performance as the Turks went top of Group A. The loss came just 24 hours after Les Bleus’ women counterparts had begun their 2019 WWC campaign with a confident 4-0 win over South Korea.
It wasn’t even a second string French outfit- there were nine players from the XI that had beaten Croatia in the 2018 WC final, but Didier Deschamps’ side were poor on the evening. They failed to register even a single shot on target- a first in 10 years and conceded two first half goals in a game for the first time since 2015. The French press, as seen below, wasn’t too enthused with the players’ performances, as illustrated by these ratings.
Lucas Digne might have had a fine season with Everton at Goodison Park, but his record with the French national team has been shaky (only one win in 6 games with Les Blues). He was hooked at half time for Lyon left back Ferland Mendy.
Despite this setback, France are still odds on to qualify for the finals next year. Their next fixture is against Andorra- on paper, Les Bleus could perhaps not have asked for a better next opponent after this disappointing defeat. The Andorrans have lost all three of their games so far in Group A, and are yet to score a goal.
Turkey will be well-placed to qualify for Euro 2020 if they get the better of Iceland in Reykjavik. Iceland, one of the surprise packages of Euro 2016, have the same points as France thanks to their victories over Andorra and Albania.
The Andorrans did however run France close in their last competitive game against Les Bleus at home. The French had Christophe Dugarry sent off midway through the first half and Andorra seemed to have done enough for a point before Frank Leboeuf’s penalty and a late red card to Antoni Lima dashed their dreams.
Senol Gunes’ Turkey, who secured victory in Konya thanks to goals from Kaan Ayhan and Cengiz Under, are now unbeaten in their last six games across all competitions. The fixture was refereed by Damir Skomina- the Slovenian’s first since the Champions League final in Madrid. A confident qualifying campaign will have the Turks dreaming of emulating Euro 2008, when they had a fine run before bowing out to Germany in the last four.