Excitement was in short supply in Paris, as the two defences were in dominant formFrance and Belgium shared the spoils in a rather unsatisfying international friendly which failed to produce a goal at the Stade de France on Tuesday evening.
The home side offered the more frequent offensive threat, though they were well stifled by long periods of the game by opponents who were exceptionally disciplined and very quick to channel large numbers of players behind the ball.
Against the run of play it was the Belgians who had the first meaningful effort of the game as Daniel Van Buyten flicked a near-post header against the outside of Hugo Lloris’ near post.
France regularly tried to be too intricate around the box, so debutant goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had few shots to worry about throughout. His first test was to hold a long range Yohan Cabaye effort that was not struck decisively enough to cause any trouble.
Franck Ribery would be the hosts’ outstanding player in the first half, and he would muster arguably les Bleus’ two best efforts of the opening period. Running down the left channel, the winger had an effort from a tough angle comfortably saved by the rookie custodian, who was stretched a little more when the same player next cut inside and bent a shot towards the far corner of the goal.
Early in the second period, Maxime Gonalons, who had replaced the injured Yann M’Vila before half time, fired a shot from well outside the box a foot over the top, and Cabaye would go similarly close before an hour had been played.
Openings were infrequent, though, and any slip at the back might have cost the hosts. A moment of great skill from Eden Hazard on the left induced an opening for Marouane Fellaini, but the Everton man shot into the side netting. Quarter of an hour later, Lloris was forced to make a fine double-save from Kevin Mirallas after the home defence had woefully defended a long throw.
Between times, Karim Benzema really should have struck for France, but his headed attempt was allowed to slide off his forehead and wide.
Towards the end of the match, the home side were invigorated by the talents of Jeremy Menez, who injected flair and urgency into their offensive play, but the overall performance from both sides was rather flat, with defences dominating, leading to a logical 0-0 draw.