Two games played, but yet to win one – reigning champions France are off to a disastrous start in their 2022/23 UEFA Nations League campaign. Les Bleus were held to a 1-1 draw by Croatia on Monday night in a rematch of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final, just days after they were beaten 2-1 by Denmark.
A busy first half saw both sides test the opposite custodians, albeit to no avail. Mike Maignan, starting in place of Hugo Lloris, denied Ante Budimir with a good early save, while Dominik Livakovic, at the other end, kept out Moussa Diaby and Aurelien Tchouameni in quick succession.
France did have the ball in the net once during the first half through Christopher Nkunku, but the attacker was flagged offside as soon as he scored for a marginally early run.
The reigning world champions did draw first blood, however. Seven minutes after the pause, Adrien Rabiot left the ball with Wissam Ben Yedder and continued his run goalwards. The AS Monaco striker clipped the ball over the Croatian defence for Rabiot to latch onto, which the Juventus midfielder did, before finishing the move superbly from close range.
Croatia turned up the gears after the concession and were rewarded for it in the 82nd minute when substitute Jonathan Clauss tripped Borna Barisic inside his box; Andrej Kramaric stepped up to the spot and scored to make it 1-1. The two sides finished level on the night.
Elsewhere, Denmark made it two wins out of two with a 2-1 success over Austria. Kasper Hjulmand’s men took the lead in the 27th minute through Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who slotted the ball into the net from close range after a lucky nick had helped it into his path.
However, Austria pegged the Danes back in the 67th minute, catching out and then capitalizing on their opponents’ attempt to play out from the back – Xaver Schlager, the scorer of the goal, with the simplest of tap-ins.
Nonetheless, Denmark won the game late on through Jens Stryger Larsen. The left wingback’s curler from the edge of the box left Patrick Pentz with no chance in the Austrian goal, and the Danes celebrated winning their second successive Nations League game.