Didier Deschamps ultimately had two big midfield decisions to make ahead of France’s Euro 2016 opener with Romania.
At the base of midfield would he prioritise the energy, tenacity and ball-winning capabilities of Leicester’s N’Golo Kante or the more controlling, tempo-setting and creative mindset of Yohan Cabaye?
Then there was the choice of who would start on the left flank alongside Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann? Anthony Martial would be a more direct running threat in behind in an attack lacking pace, Kingsley Coman would bring more surprise and direct dribbling, while Dimitri Payet would drift around more laterally to create for teammates.
Deschamps clearly got both decisions right, with Payet and Kante France’s best two players in the 2-1 victory. However, the display of midfield superstar Paul Pogba didn’t quite live up to pre-game expectation and billing.
Here is how Twitter reacted to the midfield efforts of the threesome:
Payet understandably stole the headlines with two late eye-catching moments. The first was his 89th minute winner, meaning that three of his four international goals have now arrived in the final two minutes of matches.
WHAT A GOAL FROM PAYET!! pic.twitter.com/IFXJB9yjWX
— UEFA EURO 2016 (@EurosUEFA) June 10, 2016
— Soccermatics (@Soccermatics) June 10, 2016
The second related to him being substituted.
Dimitri Payet crying as he exits the pitch after scoring the winner; what a man. Sensational performance from him tonight. World class.
— Liam Canning (@OffsideLiam) June 10, 2016
Payet was crying after winning France the game!! 😭❤️ pic.twitter.com/jHTbW6ZD2d
— Neymar Jr. (@NeyMarvellous) June 10, 2016
There was also some reaction on what Payet’s magical moment meant for both he and France for the remainder of the tournament.
Only Payet plays between the lines and surprises. The rest from France predecible. Romania have a wonderful defensive system
— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) June 10, 2016
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 10, 2016
L'Equipe: "Payet sent a message last night. It is clear. This Euro could be his."
— Tom Williams (@tomwfootball) June 11, 2016
Say goodbye West Ham fans…..
— Michael Calvin (@CalvinBook) June 10, 2016
— Jonathan Shrager (@JonathanShrager) June 10, 2016
This last tweet may be a slightly unexpected comparison!
Before the big kick off, it was Pogba who was priced up as the favourite to be named Euro 2016 player of the tournament and this still remains the case at 9/1. His performance didn’t garner the same level of admiration before he was substituted in the second half with the game poised at 1-1.
France better without Pogba 😂
— Don Hutchison (@donhutch4) June 10, 2016
Pogba completed 47/54 passes (87%) but only 1 of his 5 attempted take-ons pic.twitter.com/i5s1YCywzw
— Stats Zone (@StatsZone) June 10, 2016
Deschamps on Pogba"I'm not going to be too hard on him but clearly his potential is such that he can contribute more than he showed tonight"
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) June 10, 2016
Pogba isolated on the field, tries something exceptional almost every time he gets ball, trying too hard to be star of Euro #FRA
— Simon Kuper (@KuperSimon) June 10, 2016
However, there may have been a reason for Pogba’s lack of overall impact.
France missed an outlet on the right wing.
Probably made life harder for Pogba.
And Payet's a big dot, yeah. pic.twitter.com/LdDkz47pbP
— 11tegen11 (@11tegen11) June 10, 2016
Pogba so much less effective on the right of midfield compared to the left. Also moves him away from Evra. Small but important detail imo
— Adam Digby (@Adz77) June 10, 2016
As for Kante, it was if he was just continuing the type of dynamic performances that have been on display for Leicester over the majority of the season.
1 – N'Golo Kanté had the most touches (101), the most passes (86) and the highest passing accuracy (92%) in France v Romania. Monsieur.
— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) June 10, 2016
Said it many times this season but Kanté is as good a holding player as I've ever seen. It's like having 2 men in one position.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 10, 2016
Because Kante doesn't have a fancy haircut, doesn't do fancy skills and doesn't score screamers, he isn't rated as highly. Shame really.
— TweetChelseaFC (@TweetChelseaFC) June 10, 2016
No way Kanté is staying at Leicester after the Euros are finished. Dictating play and breaking it up with consummate ease.
— Hashbrown (@hesham786) June 10, 2016
And a little joke to finish.
I watched France-Romania with Elton John – I pointed out which team were the French.
He said, "I guess that's why they call them Les Bleus."
— Kevin Keegan (@GalacticKeegan) June 10, 2016
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.