France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Pogba, Kanté; Mbappé, Griezmann, Matuidi; Giroud
Subs: Mandanda, Areola, Sidibé, Rami, Mendy, Kimpembe, Nzonzi, Tolisso, Lemar, Fekir, Dembélé, Thauvin
Peru: Gallese; Advincula, Ramos, Rodriguez, Trauco; Aquino, Flores, Yotun; Carrillo, Guerrero, Cueva
Subs: caceda, Carvallo, Corzo, Araujo, Cartagena, Hurtado, Loyola, Sanatamaria, Tapia, Ruidaz, Farfan, Polo
Referee: M Abdulla (UAE)
The stadium announcer asks the audience to stand for the national anthems. Feel free to do likewise where you are.
The French players lend their voices to La Marseillaise with great enthusiasms. But they’re no Paul Henreid.
1 min: Three, two, one … we have kickoff!
2 min: France try to knock the ball about to ease themselves into the game, but Peru aren’t having that. They win the ball in midfield and quickly launch an attack, Guerrero sweeping the ball wide to Guerrero. Hernandez does well to poke the ball out for a throw-in
4 min: Peru have set a terrific pace and France are just concentrating on keeping them at arm’s length for the moment. “Hi Paul, I see you mentioned about Jean-Marie Pfaff,” blurts Christoph Luth. “He is still a bit of a cult hero here in Bremen due to the time he managed to turn a throw-in by Uwe Reinders into his own net (in Pfaff’s first game for Bayern).”
6 min: Yotun receives the ball near half-way and notices that Lloris is quite a bit off his line. So he tries to lob the keeper from 50 yards … and the ball drops on to the roof of the net! The centurion keeper takes a deep breath and thanks his lucky stars.
8 min: Giroud takes down a long ball on his chest, layign the platform for France to probe around the edge of the area. That’s what he’s been brought in for. Mbappé tries to nudge the ball through to Griezmann but his pass his intercepted.
10 min: Pavard and Mbappé conspire down the right wing, but Trauco puts an end to their conniving.
11 min: Griezmann flicks a long ball on to Giroud and then chases the return pass (pass is a bit generous, actually, as Giroud’s touch ricocheted off a defender). He’s slightly off balance as he lets go a shot from 15 yards, which flies wide of the near post.
12 min: Pogba unloads an excellent swirling cross-shot from 25 yards. It bounces in front of the keeper and whizzes inches wide! A fine effort.
13 min: A corner to France is preceded by a long lecture to the defenders from the referee, who’s keen to ensure there’s no shirt-tugging and what not. When the corner is delivered, Mbappé goes to ground, but the ref rightly interprets that as a fall rather than a foul.
14 min: From an outswinging corner Varane strains his neck and applies a fine header, which goes just wide of the far post.
16 min: France have started matching Peru’s vibrancy, and their quality is coming to the fore. Giroud, again serving as an excellent fulcrum, heads a long ball down for Griezmann, who unleashes a half-volley from 18 yards. It’s straight at the keeper, who saves well.
17 min: Matuidi booked for aborting a Peruvian counter-attack with a sly trip.
19 min: A cross from the left hits Pavard’s hand and the ref awards a freekick. Peru send up their big men. Yotun’s delivery is good, but Rodriguez is penalised for pushing over Umtiti. “World Cup Hero?” repeats Martin Gamage. “Johnny Rep, no contest. Obviously because he was part of the (almost) all-conquering Dutch team of the ‘70s, exotic orange shirts and all. His name’s cool, too. And he could still draw a huge crowd at a book signing I passed in London a few years back.” A book signing you passed? Couldn’t you have stopped and helped your hero out by buying his book?
21 min: Flores scurries past Matuidi down the left and then tries to eliminate Umtiti and dash into the box. But the defender is persistent and, after a couple of tries, dispossesses him.
23 min: Guerrero is booked. I’m not sure what for: he had a freekick awarded in his favour and then argued with Umtiti and the ref saw something that warranted a yellow card, apparently. Poor old Guerrero, always at loggerheads with the authorities. What he needs his nice cup of tea at half-time. Or maybe not.