As Finland pulled off a surprise win thanks to goals from two 21-year-old debutants, France suffered their first loss since June 2019.
As Finland ended France’s 12-match unbeaten streak with a shock 2-0 friendly win, Marcus Forss and Onni Valakari scored their debut goals.
A much-changed Les Bleus side made a promising start, but on Wednesday, 21-year-olds Forss and Valakari reached Finland in command at the Stade de France in the space of three first-half minutes.
Before Forss opened the scoring, French debutant Marcus Thuram hit the crossbar, but the world champions were toothless ahead of their encounters with Portugal and Sweden in the Nations League.
Finland, which also made the changes, was powerful after rocking the side of Didier Deschamps with those two out-of-the-blue first-half goals and famously won their first victory over France, whose previous loss came in June 2019 against Turkey.
On the left flank, Thuram made a lively start and nearly opened the scoring as he rose high to head the corner of Lucas Digne against the crossbar 15 minutes in, before volleying over unchecked from just eight yards out.
France was dominant, but just before the half-hour mark, Finland took the lead against the run of play, Forss driving into the penalty area to fire home after Rasmus Karjalainen dispossessed Moussa Sissoko with his left foot.
With Valakari cutting inside on his left foot and choosing his place in the top-left corner with a spectacular shot from about 20 yards out, things quickly went from bad to worse for Les Bleus.
Finland was full of trust and Steve Mandanda had to be alert to keep out Joni Kauko ‘s effort early in the second half with his foot.
Twelve minutes after the break, Antoine Griezmann, Anthony Martial and N’Golo Kante were added, with Paul Pogba withdrawing from the trio, but France was running out of ideas.
Ruben Aguilar’s Monaco full-back made his bench debut and Griezmann fired wide in stoppage time when he could have scored a disappointing night for France.
What does that imply? Fringe players are reluctant to take a gamble.
The only players who started the win over Croatia last month to be included in the line-up to take on Finland were Digne, Clement Lenglet and Steven Nzonzi.
Deschamps would have wanted those who joined the team to demonstrate the power of the World Champions in depth, but after a bright start, it was a flat show.
Mixed beginning for Thuram
Thuram’s success could be one good thing Deschamps could take from a rare loss. The 23-year-old Borussia Monchengladbach attacker, the son of French legend Lilian Thuram, gave glimpses of his quality in Paris.
He had six shots and he was expected to reach the back of the net, but he only reached the goal once. However, Thuram took on much more responsibility than some of his more senior team-mates and made two main passes as well. However, not just with his finishing, a lack of composure was apparent as only one of his five crosses found the intended target.
Ineffective with Pogba
The problems of midfielder Pogba with Manchester United have been well reported and in the middle of the park he had an evening to forget.
Although only six of his 51 passes were not completed, Pogba did not really look like cracking the defence of Finland and was mostly too deep to have a major effect before being removed.
And what is next?
France will meet Portugal in the Nations League on Saturday, while Finland will face Bulgaria on Sunday, away from home.