Euro 2016: Doubts raised over pair after disappointed opening game
My article for MARCA
France's unconvincing opening victory in the European Championship would appear to have given the French sporting press a dose of the yips, if recent reports are anything to go by.
Such was their performance against Romania that two of their biggest stars, Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba were hauled off by manager Didier Deschamps midway through the second half before Dimitri Payet pulled out the victory with a last minute screamer.
Indeed, some are even asking whether the twin talismans might be omitted from the starting eleven against Albania on Wednesday.
The substitution has not just caused a split in opinion amongst the members of the local media, but also some leading footballing personalities.
Former national team boss Raymond Domenech saw it as a brave move.
"Who would have had the nerve to haul them off like that?
"From the outside, it looks easy.”
Former Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain coach Paul Le Guen saw the move in a different light.
"It's not good for their confidence.
"Leaders need to stay on the park as long as possible and a change like that can create doubts.”
Deschamps did, of course rest the two during France's second game at the World Cup.
But another memory lingers, that of surrendering the top position in the group stage in Euro 2012, leading to a difficult draw and elimination against Spain in the knockouts - and, ultimately, the resignation of then-manager Laurent Blanc.
The doubts Le Guen mentioned are certainly there; in some quarters, at least.
'Griezmann restless' led the front page of L'Equipe, with Maxifoot noting that 'The stars of France are worried.
'Deschamps and Patrice Evra counselled against such over-exuberance, with the Juventus left-back quoted as saying "We're all human beings.
"Now is the time to keep our heads because there will be more matches”.
The manager name-checked both players.
"Paul hasn't disappointed me and just like Antoine, he's young and in good shape.”
But questions do remain about their fitness, especially that of Pogba who has had some minor physical issues, limiting his training work with the rest of the group.
With Griezmann, the question centres more around fatigue wth the forward having featured in 54 games for Atletico during a season where he looked to be losing his edge towards the end.
Griezmann himself, however was keen to bat such ideas away.
"I think I'm in great shape.
"Sure, I felt a little tired before the Champions League final, but I think I've had enough time to recover”.
Eric Olhats, a fitness adviser writing in L'Equipe, didn't see this as an issue either.
"I don't see a deficit in his fitness levels, nor that he's being put under undue strain.
"Antoine, in whatever situation, needs a little bit of adaptation time, that's all.
"We saw this with Real Sociedad, and also at Atletico.”
There is a sense that these worries may just be a reaction to a poor display in the opener, and the gnawing sense of unease that it's provoked.
'Our supposed leader in the attack was very quite against Romania,' said L'Equipe, before going on to ask: 'Should we be worried?’
But of course there's another way of looking at things and the same paper summed that up nicely in saying that back in the previous two tournaments held in France, Euro 84 and the 1998 World Cup, Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane were also questioned by some.
And, of course, France went on to emerge as champions on each occasion.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE AT MARCA IN ENGLISH