France announced themselves as genuine World Cup contenders with a brilliant performance at home to Norway in a pre-Brazil friendly on Tuesday. Didier Deschamps' side dominated the game from start to finish, eventually running out 4-0 winners thanks to a brace from Olivier Giroud and goals from Paul Pogba and Loïc Rémy. On another day, they could've scored even more.
Les Bleus started the game with an astonishing tempo, and twice forced Norway keeper Ørjan Nyland into fingertip saves within two minutes; first Antoine Griezmann and then Giroud denied from close-range. Norway could barely get out of their own half, and unsurprisingly it took only a quarter-of-an-hour before they were punished; an unmarked Pogba glancing Mathieu Valbuena's cross past Nyland for 1-0.
Pogba was at the heart of all of France's outstanding play, and almost netted a swift second. He charged into space on the edge of the Norway box, only to fire a vicious effort just wide of Nyland's post. At the other end, his immense industry denied the visitors any space when they sporadically dared to counter-attack.
As the half wore on, France seemed to lose some of their early intensity and allowed Norway more time on the ball, though the visitors still struggled to create anything from open play. That was until Joshua King found advancing left-back Tom Høgli in some space behind the marauding French defender Mathieu Debuchy on the stroke of halftime, though Høgli's shot was comfortably saved at the near post by Stéphane Ruffier.
By the time the second half had kicked off the French onslaught had resumed, and within six minutes, they'd doubled their advantage. Valbuena swiped a crossfield pass over to Giroud on the edge of the box, with the striker teeing himself up before nonchalantly lashing a brilliant dipping shot up and over Nyland and into the back of the net. Valbuena and Cabaye quickly followed up with snapshots of their own, though to Norway's relief, their efforts went wide.
Unfortunately, their respite was brief. Rémy had been on the field for less than four minutes when he was suddenly sent through one-on-one with Nyland, but he was still sharp enough to slide the ball into the back of the net for three. That was the first of two goals inside two minutes, with Giroud looping a header inside Norway's far post for 4-0, as Valbuena notched up his third assist of the evening.
The Istanbul Derby
The Istanbul Derby
If you didn't think France were serious World Cup contenders, think again.
France: Ruffier; Evra (Digne 46'), Koscielny, Sakho, Debuchy; Matuidi (Mavuba 74'), Cabaye (Cabella 80'), Pogba (Sissoko 46'); Griezmann (Rémy 64'), Giroud, Valbuena (Grenier 70').
Goals: Pogba (15'), Giroud (51'), Rémy (67'), Giroud (69')
Norway: Nyland; Høgli, Hangeland, Nordtveit, Linnes (Ringstad 90+1'); Johansen, Jenssen (Braaten 57'), Tettey (Konradsen 72'), Dæhli (Samuelsen 77'); King (Nielsen 63'); Elyounoussi (Berisha 72').