It was a World Cup that promised so much for the French.
Unfancied going into the tournament, Didier Deschamps' side promptly breezed past 10-man Honduras with a 3-0 win, cruised past Switzerland with a 5-2 win and didn't break a sweat in the 0-0 draw with Ecuador.
In the last-16, they faced sterner opposition in Nigeria. Two goals later, though, France were through to the quarter-finals with a clean sheet and a new-found confidence.
The stage was set for a big showdown with old rivals Germany, the world watching on with eager anticipation.
The result? A limp, lifeless display as the French hid back into their shell of previous years, failing to attack and conceding a poor goal from a set-piece as the Germans reached their fourth World Cup semi-final in a row.
One man may have been watching with glee as a France midfield lacking imagination produced no creativity whatsoever…
|Team||Pos||Dribbles Won||Successful Final-Third Passes||Big Chances Created||Accurate Crosses||Apps||Mins|
As Opta stats show, France's midfield five failed to create a single big chance against Germany.
Paul Pogba won six dribbles and made seven successful final-third passes, though his team-mates were not as helpful. Only four accurate crosses were delivered by French midfielders and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris completed more passes in the final third than Antoine Griezmann.
Would Nasri have held back like that in such a big game? The 27-year-old would likely have produced the creative performance Man City fans are all too used to seeing.
|Team||Pos||Goals||Assists||Dribbles Won / app||Accurate Crosses / app||Successful Final-Third Passes / app||Big Chances Created / app||Apps||Mins|
|Samir Nasri||Man City||MF||7||8||1.26||1.94||21.47||0.12||34||2,498|
Last term, Nasri scored seven league goals and made eight assists. His average dribbles won per game would have made him more effective than Valbuena and Yohan Cabaye's combined total of none and the City man can cross and create big chances too.
A telling stat is that he averaged nearly double Valbuena's tally of successful final-third passes against Joachim Low's men, which was the highest of France's midfield.
It seems the French were found out at the crucial stages of the tournament.
Nasri's absence may not have been felt in the group stages or against the African champions. But when Deschamps' side came up against a stubborn German defence, the best man for the job wasn't even in the stadium.