(Bordeaux) It’s the 95th and final minute of this 0-0 draw. Kylian Mbappé comes forward. Gets rid of Moïse Bombito, with his famous leg pass. All that’s left is to beat Maxime Crépeau. But the Quebecer throws himself to his left, dives to the ground, and makes the save with both hands.

The final whistle sounded a few seconds later at the Matmut Atlantique stadium in Bordeaux. Canada achieved the feat of holding France in check at home in front of 40,000 people. And the maple leaf can thank its Quebec goalkeeper, imperial at the start and end of the match.

“Whew!”, says Alistair Johnston in the mixed zone, when we ask him again about Crépeau’s save against the new Real Madrid player. I think the whole bench stood up at once! […] This is the advantage of seeing these players on TV every week. You know their tendencies. »

Crépeau, with his calm temperament, was composed when called to comment on this saving parade after Johnston’s appearance in front of the media. Parade which perhaps allowed Canada to achieve “one of the best results in its history”, according to Johnston

“He’s going fast, very fast!” says the goalkeeper, smiling, about Mbappé. Honestly, his quality in creating space one-on-one, and then the control-shot sequence… Frankly, at a certain point, you’re just trying to be well positioned when he’s going to shoot his shot. It’s just the reaction to the ball afterwards. »

Crépeau’s presence in net was the only change made by Jesse Marsch after last Thursday’s 4-0 loss to the Netherlands – besides the captain’s armband given to Stephen Eustáquio. After a fragile performance from Dayne St. Clair against the Dutch, and in view of his crucial saves at the start and end of the match, he believes that he has just confirmed his place as number one for the national team in view of the Copa?

“That’s my goal,” he replies, as Marsch stands a few feet away, in conversation with TSN’s Matthew Scianitti. At the same time, I know my role in the team. I’ve been here with the guys for a long time. Come what may. »

So let’s try our luck with Marsch, at the conference room podium.

“It wasn’t just the stops,” he added. I saw a complete performance, in terms of tactical understanding and how he fits into the game. Things looked easy. It was a mature, clear performance. »

We spoke of an achievement, and we weigh our words carefully: it’s quite one.

France, world champion in 2018, finalist in 2022, with its Antoine Griezmann, its Olivier Giroud, its Ousmane Dembélé, its all-out offensive threats. Canada, beaten 4-0 by the Netherlands three days ago, with only a few days of training under the new instructions of its coach.

Certainly, Kylian Mbappé did not start the match, suffering from knee and back discomfort. He came on with 15 minutes to go. To a warm ovation from the crowd.

Johnston rightly praised his new coach’s tactical adjustments to justify the result.

“It shows the impact of the new coach who is coming,” explained the defender, who suffered the physical repercussions of his numerous duels on Sunday evening. He brings his style, and the guys get on board. »

Almost in the same breath, on the other hand, Johnston qualifies.

“Now it’s about getting to the next level. We must realize our opportunities. It would have been nice to come out of there with a victory, although we can add this match to our foundation. »

Because Canada had its chances. There was Liam Millar’s shot, which hit the crossbar, at the very start of the second half.

“That’s when [the French] realized they had a game, I think,” noted Johnston. 

Then, Jonathan David had two great chances to open the scoring for the Canadiens. In the 65th, instead of passing to Eustáquio on his left already in the box, he took a blocked shot in defense. In the 79th, instead of shooting, he tried a pass that killed the play. Two sequences that showed a flagrant lack of synchronization in attack for the Maple Leaf. He can be satisfied with his evening for now, but it will certainly need to be reworked.

At the start of the engagement, France was willing to take the bull by the horns. She quickly became threatening, notably in the 8th on a shot from N’Golo Kanté on the right. But the Blue came up against Maxime Crépeau.

“It gave us confidence,” said Stephen Eustáquio. He did an incredible job. It gave us power. »

For the rest of this first period, we want to say that Canada looked the best. In the construction of the game, in the high pressure on the field. Olivier Giroud, captain for what should be his last match in the Blues uniform on French territory, did not obtain particularly effective service from his companions Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembélé.

The second half was generally quiet in terms of play, which already tells us that Canada managed it much better than against the Netherlands. They came out of the locker room on fire, scoring four goals.

Even the entry of Mbappé, apart from his good chance in the last moments, did not change much for the locals. Bored by back pain and a knee problem, he did not seem to want to push the issue for this last friendly match before the Euro.

So it’s not these 15 minutes of Mbappé that hold the attention. To finish, let’s take it to Ismaël Koné, brilliant during his 88 minutes. He was nearly perfect in his pass passing, completing 40 of his 43 attempts.

“I think he was our best player tonight, honestly,” said Alistair Johnston.

The two teams thus complete their respective preparations before the Copa and the Euro. With a result which offers very different conclusions for each of them.

“It’s a friendly match, against an excellent opponent,” Marsch said, before chuckling. And it’s a draw, not a win! But obviously, there is a lot of confidence in the group right now. They feel the energy of what is being created. This will help them understand more clearly, and believe in what we are trying to establish. »