Long-time goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris has left the French national team after the World Cup. But there is no mourning and no search for a replacement, because Les Bleus have a goalkeeper ready for the next 10 years ahead – Mike Maignan.
Thirteen years. That’s how long France hasn’t seen another number one in goal. Hugo Lloris took the position in 2010 and when he was healthy, he never let anyone else between the three sticks.
After the World Cup, he decided to retire from the national team at the age of 36, and in a normal situation, the loss of a captain and long-time number one would hurt any national team. But for France, it’s quite possibly an “upgrade”.
Mike Maignan, who has been performing well at AC Milan, finally got his chance. Before the March meeting, the 27-year-old goalkeeper had only five games for the national team, but after his performances against the Netherlands and Ireland, he has consolidated his position as number one.
Against the Netherlands he already showed a great performance and made a great save in the last minute. But France were leading 4:0 and a goal conceded would not have upset Les Bleus.
It would have been much worse against Ireland. France were only 1:0 up after Pavard’s goal and the world champions failed to add a second. And the home team made a last-minute breakthrough.
Nathan Collins took a corner kick and sent a precise and fierce header towards goal. The whole stadium was raising their hands, but then Maignan came out and made a fantastic save to scramble the ball away.
He kept his second clean sheet in two games and kept France at the top of the table in Group B. Although Mbappé and co. are the clear favourites to qualify, they have the toughest group of the qualifiers, apart from the Netherlands and Ireland they will also face Greece. So every point is very important.
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