Defence is France's weak link, says Neil Humphreys
Deschamps stuck with defensive hole he can't cover
(Blaise Matuidi 20, Olivier Giroud 41, Dimitri Payet 90)
(Vincent Aboubakar 22, Eric Choupo Moting 88)
Didier Deschamps knows there is an obvious flaw in the masterplan, a loose thread that threatens to tear apart the fabric of the French squad.
Going forward, Les Bleus (below) are an embarrassment of riches.
At the back, it's a bit of an embarrassment.
The France coach failed to hide his disdain for the defensive disorganisation that was painfully apparent in Nantes yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Dimitri Payet's astounding free-kick earned a scrappy 3-2 victory against Cameroon, but those corrosive, rusting holes around the French penalty box will eat away at their pragmatic coach.
Just a week ago, Deschamps expressed his deep frustration after Real Madrid centre back Raphael Varane was ruled out of Euro 2016 with a thigh injury.
The news came shortly after Mamadou Sakho was omitted after failing a drugs test.
When Jeremy Mathieu failed to recover from a calf injury at the weekend, Deschamps looked an exasperated man, shaking his head at the misfortune that was throwing his preparations into disarray.
He feared the worst. Against Cameroon, his fears became reality. France's vulnerabilities were ruthlessly exposed.
Deschamps emphasised Cameroon's unexpected attacking impetus, but his transparent attempt to explain away a worryingly inept defensive display failed.
The proof was in the puddings playing in front of Hugo Lloris. Poor Adil Rami wandered around the penalty box like a zombified extra on a movie set who's suddenly expected to take on the lead role without a script.
The Sevilla defender manfully tried to keep up, but the 30-year-old ran through treacle, betraying the fact that he hadn't featured for France since June 2013. He wasn't even included among France's eight standby players.
Sadly, it showed.
Rami established a partnership with Laurent Koscielny that suggested the two had been introduced for the first time in the tunnel as part of an elaborate clinical trial for memory loss.
By kick-off, they'd already forgotten each other.
Rami lost Vincent Aboubakar for Cameroon's first goal and later acted out a Laurel-and-Hardy routine with Koscielny to allow Eric Choupo Moting to wander into an empty box and score the second.
France's concerns had been documented in previous warm-ups, but the dramatic loss of Varane, Mathieu and, to a lesser extent, Sakho leaves them tiptoeing towards a defensive crisis.
Their fullbacks are considered the steady, reliable automatons of the outfit, but they have a combined age of 68. Effective wing play requires speedsters rather than senior citizens.
Patrice Evra and Bacary Sagna offered no-frills options against Cameroon, dependable but rarely dangerous. Evra's irrepressible enthusiasm remains, but so does the occasional dereliction of positional duties.
He was caught out for the first goal. Cameroon probed their right flank for a reason. France's opponents at Euro 2016 will do likewise.
For Deschamps, the extraordinary contrast in resources must read like a Dickens novel. It the was the best of times in attack. It was the worst of times in defence.
On the left side of Les Bleus' favoured 4-3-3, Payet whipped in yet another PlayStation free-kick that defied the eye, physics and even gravity itself.
Payet's set-piece delivery is arguably the most reliable in the French squad, but he started on the left. And that's Anthony Martial's position.
On the other side, the revelatory Kingsley Coman dominated the right flank, then swopped sides and did the same on the left, terrorising the Africans before setting up Blaise Matuidi's opener.
But Coman started on the right. And that's Antoine Griezmann's position.
N'Golo Kante, one of the English Premier League's best players last season, excelled as a second-half substitute in a position usually occupied by Lassana Diarra.
Once his teamsheet passes the halfway line, Deschamps has too much quality and not enough positions. It's a happy selection headache.
In defence, it's a migraine of mediocrity.
And there really is little Deschamps can do about it. The back four that bumbled around against Cameroon are about as good as it gets.
The hosts won't realistically impress the neighbours with clean sheets at Euro 2016.
They promise delightfully messy contests, where outscoring the opponents seems the best chance of success.
France boast enough flamboyance and creative dynamism to win the tournament on home soil, but the responsibility rests with their most inventive artists.
Les Bleus must lead from the front.
They can't rely on the men standing behind them.
We can always improve everything. This is the first game that Adil (Rami) played with Laurent (Koscielny). On the defensive side, not everything was perfect and it deserves more communication.
— France coach Didier Deschamps
I thought I was timid. I know that I made mistakes. It’s better to do it now than later.
— Defender Adil Rami telling Canal Plus
BY THE NUMBERS
The 3-2 win over Cameroon was France’s third consecutive international win, after victories over Russia (4-2) and Holland (3-2). Their last loss was 2-0 to England on Nov 18.
Sweden fire blanks without Ibrahimovic
Sweden were sorely missing star striker and captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic as they lacked fire in a lacklustre 0-0 draw in a pre-Euro 2016 friendly against Slovenia in Malmo yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Many of the 17,000 crowd had come to see local star Ibrahimovic in action, but instead saw a pedestrian display against a team who did not qualify for Euro 2016.
Ibrahimovic sat out the game to rest a sore calf with coach Erik Hamren given plenty to think about ahead of yesterday's final team announcement for Euro 2016 which gets under way on June 10.
Bordeaux forward Isaac Kiese Thelin, coming off a season hampered by injuries, lacked pace with two clear chances going astray - the first following a slip-up by the Slovenian defence before the break and the second off a John Guidetti cross after 50 minutes.
Celta Viga striker Guidetti, however, looks assured of his place in the Euro 2016 squad after leading from the front, but he, too, missed two chances after 58 minutes and 64 minutes.
SOLID: Sweden striker John Guidetti (right) missed two chances against Slovenia but looked good to get into the Euro 2016 squad.
Benfica's Victor Lindelof, 21, stamped his mark on defence in just his third call-up, while Olympiakos winger Jimmy Durmaz was also solid and could benefit as midfielder Albin Ekdal has recovered after cutting his back falling on a glass table. Oscar Lewicki is also recovering from a groin injury.
The Slovenian goalkeeper was hardly pushed by the Scandinavians, although he was at full stretch to keep out a fine shot from substitute Marcus Rohden on 84 minutes.
Sweden play Wales in Solna on Sunday in their final warm-up game before taking on Republic of Ireland at the Stade de France in Paris for their Euro 2016 opener on June 13.
The Swedes also face Belgium and Italy in Group E.
Meanwhile, Ibrahimovic's agent Mino Raiola has played down suggestions that a move to Manchester United is imminent for the Swedish supertsar.
The Red Devils have been heavily linked with a move to sign the 34-year-old striker in recent weeks ahead of the appointment of Ibrahimovic's former Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho as United's new boss.
But Raiola said United aren't the only option for the free agent.
"There are some clubs in England, a few clubs in Europe, clubs outside Europe, but everyone assumes that he must go to Manchester United - it is not true," Raiola told Swedish media outlet Expressen.
"The club that buy him do not have to pay a transfer fee. This means that Ibrahimovic, who just finished a record season at PSG, can get an extra high salary. He is in a good bargaining position.
"It's about doing the right thing at the right time.
"The only thing we care about is quality. Let's see what happens."- Wire Services.