Against Romania, France was barely watchable despite a win. In their 2-0 victory over Albania, France was barely watchable despite a win. In both matches, their attack wasn't nearly as dynamic or entertaining as had been expected, leading to largely stagnant and frustrating performances in both matches. In both games, though, there was one reason to keep watching France despite their struggles, and that reason was N'Golo Kanté.
Coming off an incredible club campaign with Premier League champions Leicester City in England, Kanté forced his way into a deep French midfield by displaying quality that couldn't be denied. He's emerged as one of the best defensive midfielders in Europe, and despite playing a role that's generally ill-regarded for its entertainment value, the way Kanté goes about his business is certainly well worth keeping a close eye on.
Time and again, Kanté has been in the middle of everything good France has gotten done on the pitch, or bailed them out of trouble when they weren't doing so good. If you need examples, just look at his performance against Albania. Using his significant work rate and excellent on-field intelligence, he was continually getting himself into perfect positions to break up Albanian attacks with perfectly timed tackles or by cutting a pass off before it could become dangerous.
Whenever France needed him against an Albania counterattack, he was there, slowing it down or pushing it wide or stopping it cold entirely. But it wasn't just in defense that Kanté was able to help his country out -- his late runs up into attack helped extend numerous attacks, and he had some of their most dangerous shots before France finally scored late, crashing on rebounds or serving as an outlet when they needed to keep the ball moving. His timing and discipline were huge assets for France all over the pitch, and they stayed in the game long enough to win almost solely because of Kanté.
More than that, though, Kanté was just fun to watch. The way he'd hunt down the ball like a heat-seeking missile was wonderfully entertaining, and trying to guess where he'd pop up next was a good way to pass the time during some of the more frustrating parts of the match. Having him be part of the game made an otherwise dull match bearable, and hopefully we're only seeing the start of what he can do in a French uniform.