Karim Benzema scored twice while forcing Honduras keeper Noel Valladares to score an own-goal in a 3-0 victory for France in their Group E opener. The man who really pushed the tempo in the final third was Mathieu Valbuena and he should be considered his country’s best player from Sunday.
The 4-3-3 for France worked perfectly for all of the players involved as they were not too selfish on the ball, made runs to support teammates, did not mind quickly passing the ball to open teammates and worked hard for one another throughout the 90 minutes. They played with a certain flair that was not shown in the last World Cup back in 2010.
Benzema did score and create another, but at times he lost the ball as he allowed himself to be marked closely by multiple Honduran players. His teammates had no issue moving on and off the ball on a consistent basis. If they did not work as hard as they did, he may have not scored anything other than his opening penalty.
The defense looked rock solid as they did not allowed their opponents to create too much. The midfield pressured them without forgiveness which forced many unneeded errors and desperate clearances from their own third. The three guys in front did their jobs by dropping back to help their midfield ease the pressure to regain possession which is exactly what every single team should do at this stage.
As for Honduras, the Central American side were never going to dominate this match. Midfielder Wilson Palacios set the bad example by dropping several French players before being ejected after getting hit with a second yellow card inside 43 minutes. He left his teammates down to 10 men which only made things easier for the French.
Honduras need to find a way to penetrate the ball better going forward and cannot panic as much defensively. Roger Espinoza is arguably their best midfielder, and he was always watched with a close eye which is why he could only send a few decent passes into the final third. He and his teammates can no longer be shocked to be on the same field as their world-class counterparts.
Next up for France will be an anticipated match against Switzerland who sit right behind them in second with the same amount of points but have only one positive goal difference. Which ever nation wins that one will surely win the group.
Honduras play Ecuador in a game that they could score but could definitely lose if they do not keep their heads calm and play another wild match.