While we prepare to endure a dead rubber State of Origin match is Brisbane, we had a practice run when we saw the 0 – 0 draw foisted upon the patrons by France and Denmark.
Both are through to the knockout stage and took the pitch for an entirely ceremonial 90 minutes of dribbling and discussions about new club contracts.
France dominated possession, but they hardly bothered to create any chances. Denmark was determined, but they wanted to preserve their players’ energy for what likely will be a meeting with Croatia to secure a spot in the quarterfinals.
Les Bleus advance from scoring three goals in three games. One of those was a penalty and another was an own goal, hardly the sort of thing one would expect from one of the world’s top ranked clubs.
France’s next opponent will be determined later, when Argentina meets Nigeria in Saint Petersburg.
French manager Didier Deschamps was also of a mind to rest his stars. He did not play skipper Hugo Lloris or Paul Pogba, who is one booking away from suspension. Neither did Kylian Mbappe do any running or kicking.
France also gave a debut to Steve Mandanda as the goalkeeper and given enough time, Mandanda can say that he presided over a shutout in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Finals.
One thing France and Denmark did not rest was the staging. Denmark player Martin Braithwaite did a credible impression of a Barra flopping about the bottom of a skiff following pressure from Presnel Kimpembe, who seemed to be in the relative vicinity of Braithwaite, in the sense that both were in Russia at the time.
There was a brief moment of excitement when a free-kick by Christian Eriksen nearly caught Mandanda out, but he awoke in time to pounce on the ball and clear it. France could have pulled Mandanda for an extra striker if that sort of thing were permitted, as he stood by for long periods of time for the majority of the match.
78,000 fans voiced their dissatisfaction when the final whistle sounded, but the result was more than suitable for both France and Denmark and no ticket refunds were issued.