Dimitri Payet is the bookies’ frontrunner to win Euro 2016’s best player award following an impressive showing in the group stages.
The French playmaker scored in Les Bleus’ two opening fixtures and almost netted what would surely have been the goal of the tournament after coming off the bench during Sunday night’s 0-0 draw against Switzerland.
Payet hammered a fierce volley onto the crossbar following magnificent work down the right flank from Moussa Sissoko. A few inches lower and the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille would have erupted.
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The West Ham star also hit the bar during a training match against a Paris FC youth team at Clarefontaine on Monday - although on this occasion the ball ended up in the back of the net.
Payet found some space 25 yards from goal and set himself with a touch before curling the ball past the goalkeeper, who was left rooted to the spot.
Video: Payet's stunner in training match
The ball hit the underside of the bar, came back down, hit it again and then nestled into the back of the net. A very aesthetically pleasing goal.
France won 7-0 and Giroud scored four(!)
France’s senior stars beat the third division Under-19 side 7-0, with Olivier Giroud netting four - honestly - in the rout, and Anthony Martial, Samuel Umtiti and Payet adding the others.
Didier Deschamps, France’s head coach, will bring Payet back into the starting line-up for the team’s last-16 match in Lyon on Sunday. It’s still unclear, at this moment in time, who they’ll face - but we do know it’ll be a third-placed side from either Group C, D or E.
Payet praises France's defence
Speaking about France’s reasonable start to the tournament, Payet heaped praise on the team’s defence, which has conceded just one goal in their opening three matches.
"We've got a good defence and it's not just the back four," the 29-year-old was quoted as saying by the Mirror. "We've reached a new level in defence.
"These defensive efforts weigh on our freshness but I'd rather not concede a goal and score one in the 90th minute rather than concede two or three and have to go and score three or four.
"Because there is not a big gap between the teams, it's hard to score three or more goals."
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