Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Expect to see many new faces for Les Bleus walk out on the pitch in Armenia

No one will be surprised to see a completely new starting line up roll out later today when France face off against Armenia. We already know of the injuries to Benzema and Mangala, so already two spots for new faces. And we expect to see DD run through his other players on the roster and see what he has. So from the press here is the line up we might expect to see:

Mandanda - Jallet, Varane, Mathieu, Digne - Matuidi, Schneiderlin - Sissoko, Payet, Rémy - Gignac

This line up shifts France back to a 4-2-3-1, not a formation I really want to see Les Bleus in, and
Dynamic duo for Les Bleus?
really it could be a 4-3-3 with Sissoko dropping deeper on the pitch and allowing Payet and Remy to play the wide winger roles. The things to watch other than the obvious - see how the new faces play - is to see the role Payet takes on. A player that normally is a winger has been slotted more to the center for his club this year and has shown some success. He will also be sitting behind his OM teammate - Gignac. Does this familiarity on the offensive end bring something to the table for Les Bleus? Does Payet give DD a real option as a center of the park playmaker? Or is he more suited to the wing? It will be also be interesting to watch the right side of the formation. With both Remy and Sissoko who can play that channel, and both are more apt to stay in a wide position.

Let's face it, France is not playing a giant of football. The Armenian coach has also said he thinks this game is "sh**" so I don't expect a lot of creativity from the team from the Caucasus. So I expect France to be attacking and carrying the play for the bulk of the game. It will be interesting to see if with Gignac, a more traditional #9 and his playmaker from OM, if Les Bleus can break down the Armenians.

Prediction - France 2: Armenia 0 goals from Gignac and Schneiderlin.

Allez Les Bleus.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Good win for Les Bleus, but concerns remain

Deschamps and Les Bleus continue their "friendly" qualifications, defeating Portugal 2-1 in Paris. Portugal was coming in off a defeat against Albania in Euro qualifiers and wasn't approaching this as just another friendly, especially considering this was also the first game in charge for new manager - Fernando Santos. But like most friendly internationals, this match had the usual characteristics - some spurts of high intensity and many lulls in between. So what to make of this game?

The Good:
  • You can never sneeze at getting a result against another international size - especially one of Portugal's reputation.  France follow up their victory a month ago against Euro defending champion Spain with another victory over their Iberian peninsula neighbor.  France, since that miracle of a game against Ukraine in Paris, have been building back their mojo. While I am not ready to say they have arrived, they are clearly progressing in the right direction.
  • Benzema finding the back of the net. Remember when Karim had gone what felt like a life time since he scored for Les Bleus? Since the end of qualifiers and through the World Cup it feels as if the Real Madrid striker has regained his form. His goal was not one the most technically beautiful goals, but it was a true strikers goal. After a great rush from Griezmann, who cut the ball back through the penalty box onto the on rushing Sagna, who hit a heavy shot. The former Arsenal man was unfortunate to not have opened his account with France, the shot asked for an outstanding save from Patricio. Unfortunately the keeper was only able to deflect the shot onto the the foot of Benzema. Who, for once, had camped out on the 5 yard box and was in the perfect position to clean up the garbage and put the ball in the back of the net. A true center forward's goal. With players such as Griezmann and Valbuena bombing down the flanks, it is important for Benzema to get into those positions to take advantage of the crosses and pace from his wingers. 
  • Speaking of Real Madrid, Varane is quickly becoming a center piece for the defensive back 4 as well as France.  The youngster shows positional awareness beyond his youth but also the physical assets to make up for mistakes and take on players 1 on 1. Just look at how he was able to shoulder off Ronaldo in the second half on a delicate 50/50 ball in the French penalty box. The future is bright for Varane. Amazing that Real Madrid is so stacked that he is not a regular starter.
  • Another youngster - Pogba - is quickly becoming an anchor for Les Bleus. The Juventus man
    Midfield control tower for Les Bleus
    is the boss for the French midfield. The likes of Cabaye and Matuidi do yeoman's work, but it is the France #19 that is the metronome for Les Bleus. As was stated during the game, he can also play any style of play that may arise - fast paced, he can distribute and add to the attack, defensive, he can easily lie deeper on the field. He also contributed with a smart goal from a nice lay off from Benzema. As the saying goes, the spin of the team is where the strength needs to be - with the likes of Varane at center back and Pogba at central midfield, you have the foundation of a world class spine. 
The Bad:
  • Speaking of Pogba...he is a player with tremendous talent as well as confidence. And why not. He is not even 22 yet and he already has captained the U20 French side to an U20 World Cup, where he also won player of the tournament award. He has played in a World Cup and been to a 1/4 final, scoring along the way. Pogba has already played for 2 of the world's biggest clubs - Manchester United and Juventus where he is currently. The one negative about confidence is it sometimes makes you think you are invincible. At times Pogba does things that on the pitch that are the result of youthful exuberance. For example - in the second half, after nursing the lead he plays a ball in his half, doing a few nifty step overs and pirouettes he has the chance to make an easy pass out to his right or even back to his center backs. Instead he tries one more step over, loses the ball and allows a Portuguese break. He needs to be better aware of the situation. Something that will, hopefully, come with maturity as he grows in the game.
  • Did France have anyone on the right side? Okay I realize this is a regular criticism in my post France posts. I could probably just copy and paste from the dozens of other posts about this. But seriously...at times I wondered if France forgot they were allowed to attack down the right. Surprisingly the first goal came from Sagna coming down the right flank. Otherwise the right flank was almost entirely ignored. Much of this is, once again, because the right winger, Valbuena, cannot resist drifting back to the middle of the park and even out to the left. I realize that the plan is for Valbuena and Griezmann are suppose to swap wings during the game, but that only works if the other winger goes to the opposite wing! Too often Valbuena and Griezmann found themselves on the same side of the pitch - the left side - and at times almost on top of one another. While the right side was lonely. France must find a way to better balance their attack. For once I cannot critique Sagna since he did all once could hope for as he pushed up when appropriate - he also had the defensive responsibility to keep Ronaldo in check. But without a right wing...that stays the majority of the time on the right, it is a lot to ask of your right back. What is even more frustrating is that playing against the likes of Ronaldo, who will not track back, the right winger could hope for space to open up. Alas the French attack leans so far left we never found out.
The Ugly:
  • The Officiating...left much to be desired. The penalty for Portugal? Really? Not sure how that was even given. One could argue that the officials missed the off sides on Evra on France's
    Enjoy your minute of action...
    second goal (granted on replay it showed that the play did come off a Portuguese defender  so no offsides, but impossible to see that in real time). Not that the game was out of hand, but the officials didn't really seem to make calls consistently.
  • Deschamps substitution patterns. Yes I am being knit-picky but why bring Gignac on in the 90th minute? What does that gain you? You need to at least let him get 10 - 15 minutes of time on the field. Even the commentators said as much. Not sure about the introduction of Payet, at least what were his instructions? He came in and right away camped out on the left...why not tell him to stick on the right wing, as he has done in the past, and see if you can finally balance your attack? 
Overall a good match for Les Bleus. Of course there remains many questions for Les Bleus as they build towards 2016.  I have a feeling we will see a lot of changes next week when they travel to Armenia.

Allez les Bleus!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

DD calls up his list for next round of friendlies - are we really prepping for the Euros in 2 years?

Deschamps announced his list of players that will face Portugal (October 11th) and Armenia (October 14th). The list looks very similar to ones we have seen from DD. Actually almost resembles one from 2 years ago...

Keepers: Lloris, Mandanda, Ruffier
Defense: Evra, Sagna, Digne, Varane, Mangala, Mathieu, Koscielny, Jallet
Midfield: Matuidi, Schneiderlin, Cabaye, Pogba, Sissoko, Valbuena
Forwards: Payet, Benzema, Griezmann, Rémy, Gignac, Cabella 

The returns of Gignac and Payet are a return to the past for DD. Not a huge surprise to see the OM #9 since he has been on a tear with his club team this season - 8 goals in Ligue 1. Payet has always been somewhat of an enigma. Loads of talent, a player who rose through the youth ranks at Nantes' top class development program, yet a player who has failed to really shine at the top levels. It almost feels like a safe pick for DD. But not a player I see as a full blown international. It also feels that
Back in blue
these selections were made by default with the likes of Giroud out until 2015. France remains thin at striker, so Gignac could actually have a legitimate chance of making the Euro squad. Payet, I think the jury remains out and might be more of an indication that DD still wants to find the right player on the right flank (do I sound like a broken record??).

My concern is the continuous inclusion of Evra in the side. The Juventus left back looked a shell of his former dominate self during the World Cup. Not surprising considering the miles that are in his legs. Unlike the other international coaches, DD does not have to worry about winning these games. France is automatically qualified for the Euros as the host. So Deschamps is in the unique position to truly test some players that will be key to the France side in 2 years. He doesn't have to lean on veterans that might not be around for the Euros but that he needs now to win games. Yet he insists on calling up Evra when he as viable options such as Digne from PSG (who is in the side) and Kurzawa from AS Monaco (who should be in the side). The next two years should really be about figuring who between these two left backs and even Tremoulinas is going to become the anchor at left back for Les Bleus. Continuing to give time, in training and during the games, for a player like Evra, feels like a wasted opportunity.

The remainder of the squad is straight forward. I would look for DD to rotate through these players during the two games. It will be interesting to see how he manages the formation for - Cabaye, Sissoko, Matuidi and Pogba - as his middle 3 if he continues to go with the 4-3-3. On the wings it appears that Valbuena on the right and Griezmann on the left will be the first choice, but where do Remy, Cabella and Payet fit in this? As for the middle of the top 3, look for Benzema and Gignac to split the games in that role. Kos and Varane appear to be the #1 central defensive pairing. The wide defenders will be interesting with the injury to Debuchy, who will emerge as the right back (and apparent #2 behind the Arsenal man) and on the left...well does Evra get a start???

I would also expect to see the keepers rotate. I would not be averse to even seeing Lloris sit both games and give Mandanda and Ruffier each a game.

It is positive that there isn't too much turn over on the squad and that most of the roles are fairly well defined. But there remain some questions about who some of the support players DD will groom to become important assets in 2 years. Granted, DD also made it known that he was giving priority to the Espoir team as they look to qualify for the Euros. A reason why the likes of Zouma, Thauvin and even the aforementioned Kurzawa were not included on the senior list. However at some point I would like to see some of the youth players get integrated into the senior squad.

Should be an interesting 2 years...might be a slow boil.

Allez les Bleus.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Deschamps turns over his roster - France head to Serbia to kick off their Euro "qualifiers."

France have a quick turn around, after defeating Spain in Paris, they will head East to face Serbia in "qualifiers." Since France is guaranteed a spot in the next Euros...they are the hosts...they are in Group I of qualifiers. This set up allows them to navigate the next two years under the guise of playing qualifiers - ensuring matches and hopefully simulating a real qualifying campaign.

This should be a good test for Les Bleus. They will be heading into a hostile environment against a team with legitimate aspirations to qualify directly to the Euros. With the rapid turn around it is evident that DD will look to rotate some of his roster. From all indications that will be the case.

Only Lloris, Pogba, Sissoko and Varane appear ready to keep their starting roles. I even question why Lloris needs to get another game when Mandanda could use the time to get rid of some international rust...

The apparent changes will give some time to the likes of Cabella, Mathieu and Scheiderlin. Players who have much to gain from these matches if they hope to go to the Euros. It appears that DD will go back to his 4-3-3 with the following line up -

France : Lloris (cap.) - Sagna, Varane, Mathieu, Digne - Schneiderlin, Cabaye, Pogba - Sissoko, Rémy, Cabella

A better freelancer or pinned to a wing?
Mathieu at center back is an interesting twist. Not really known to play that role, what will the Barcelona man bring to the table? And does DD really see him as an option to play center back? After coming off the bench it appears we will see Cabaye back in his starting role - patrolling the space in front of the back 4. Scheiderlin will be getting his second start for France and should be given some greater chances to show what he can do on the creative side, looking to shoulder Pogba in launching the French offense. Up front we will have a very piece meal trio, without a true center forward, and once again a non traditional right winger. I see Cabella as a more natural central midfielder, pulling the strings from the center of the park. Could the formation morph into something of a bastardized 4-4-2? With Sissoko dropping deeper and Cabella and Remy interchanging at the top of the formation? There is no real target #9 in this formation, so look for any offense to have to be created by the collective effort and with the three midfielders to jump up into the offensive end.

It will be interesting to see how Les Bleus react after having played on Thursday. It is a quick turn around in a very hostile environment....

I smell a drab 1-1 draw.

Allez Les Bleus!!!!!

Saturday, September 06, 2014

France successfully navigate first day back in international season - defeat defending Euro champs

Feels like the World Cup finals were yesterday...and we are already back in the swing of the international football schedule. France and Spain headlined a decent roster of matches including Argentina v Germany and Italy v Holland. While the match ups, on paper, were mouth watering, the resulting games were, as expected, were a tad drab. So what to make of France's 1-0 win over Spain?

The Good:
  • France continue their positive rebuilding. After falling 1-0 to the eventual World Cup Champions Germany at the 1/4 stage of the World Cup, France got back on the winning track. France will be hosting the Euros in 2 years. Due to this automatic qualification, France will not have real competitive games for the next two years. Match ups against the likes of Spain go a long way to keeping France's development on track.
  • Pogba growing into the role as the boss of the midfield...and team. The Juventus midfielder has already captained the French U20 side to the U20 World Cup victory a few years back. He also became an integral part of DD's set up at the World Cup - even chipping in a crucial goal against Nigeria in the knock out stage. He is putting his stamp on the midfield as the box-to-box midfielder Les Bleus have been seeking since Vieira retired. M'Vila was seen as that player, but his career has taken a side step. Although with M'Vila back from exile in the East it might be an interesting combination if he rediscovers his form.
  • Le Petit Velo - Valbuena - remains the metronome for Les Bleus. He is the creative fulcrum for France. It was his vision and play that was at the center of the goal from Remy. With Ribery's
    Remy benefits from Valbuena's creativity
    retirement from international football, the only truly creative player France have is Valbuena. Players of the likes of Cabella offer that creativity as well, but he is still a few games away from elevating his game to the international level. France's success over the next 2 years and how well they do at home in the Euros will hinge on how well Valbuena's creative play drives the midfield. Which calls into question why he was taken off the field in the 1/4 finals against Germany when France was chasing the game late on...
  • Sissoko playing out on the right. The Newcastle man is more of a traditional box-to-box or deep lying midfielder. However since he was put out on the the right by DD in World Cup qualifiers...away to Spain...he seems to have found a role with the national team. He is not a traditional right winger like a Menez or even a Remy, but his power and pace bring something the French national team have not had out on that side. He also seems more willing to stay out on the right allowing for Les Bleus to keep their shape. Since he is more of a deep lying player, he doesn't shy away from his responsibilities to back track defensively. 
The Bad:
  • For once the left side looked a little dodgy. Griezmann had a rather pedestrian game on the left side. This was a bit disappointing after his good showing at the World Cup. Of course one cannot judge the player from 60 minutes. Long term I am not concerned about the left side with regards to Griezmann. But there will clearly be some growing pains for the French left side after the international retirement from Ribery. It is to be expected when you lose a world class player like Ribery.
  • I am a little concerned with the fact that some of DD's main cogs are not full time starters on their club sides - in particular Sakho and Varane. Neither has maintained regular starting roles for Liverpool and Real Madrid. Something to watch for in their club play. Reality is not sure what DD's other options at center backs since the likes of Mangala, Zouma and Yanga-Mbiwa are not regular starters for their clubs either. The one regular starter is Kos...and even his role looked a little tenuous with the start of Chambers recently for Arsenal! Something to watch for moving forward.
 The Ugly:
  • Speaking of the left side - I think seeing Evra continue might get a tad ugly. Unlike the Gooner who is clearly "anti-Evra," I am not entirely negative on the Juventus left back. But I do
    Has his time passed?
    recognize that he is well past his prime. And that will not get any better in 2 years time. While the player doesn't seem to want to retire from international play, I question what DD gets from continuing to play him on French left. France have some options out on the left - Digne being first in line. There is also Kurzawa from AS Monaco as well as Mathieu from Barcelona who are options for that left side. I will be shocked if Evra is the starting left back in 2 years time for France...having said that, it might be time for Deschamps to start integrating a new starting left back now. Allow the new left back to integrate with the likes of Griezmann.
One cannot take too much from this game, granted the win was nice. Deschamps started out in a 4-2-3-1 but it was really more of a 4-3-2-1 with Sissoko on the right but more in line with Pogba and Matuidi, Valbuena given more free reign with Griezmann and Benzema as the high line striker. Similar to the World Cup, this is Deschamps' best formation - allowing him to put as many of his best midfielders on the pitch. It will be interesting to watch how this evolves especially when it comes to Cabaye and how he fits in the midfield. He has had a difficult time securing regular first team action with PSG (wonder if he wishes he was still at Newcastle...or maybe Arsenal) but he was a vital part of DD's set up in Brazil. Moving forward will he regain this role with France? Or become a super sub? Not necessarily a bad problem for DD to have - but probably not the role Cabaye desires.

France will not embark on a number of friendlies as they act as the 6th team in Group I - they will play a schedule as if they were in the qualification process but obviously the results will not count for either France or the team they play. I think this is one of the smarter ideas from UEFA - guarantees the host some games, and pits them against a qualification group guaranteeing they get matches against top nations such as Portugal.

What to watch moving forward:
  • Who asserts themselves as the left fullback for Les Bleus?
  • Is there a viable back up to Benzema up front?
  • Will Griezmann put his stamp on the left winger role?
  • How will DD manage his apparent log jam in the midfield, especially if someone of the likes of M'Vila regains his form?
Should make for an interesting 2 years of preparation for the Euros.
Allez les Bleus!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Post World Cup roster looks eerily like the one from Brazil - Deschamps releases his list.

Yup, international friendlies and European Cup qualifiers are about to start up again. Get ready for whining for the clubs and some new international careers being launched. The first round of internationals are always interesting after a World Cup. How much will rosters change? In the case of Les Bleus...not much at all.

Deschamps is going with many of the players that got his side to a 1/4 final in Brazil. We knew ahead of the time that Abidal, Ladreau, Nasri and Ribery would not be included since they have all retired from international football. So the list:

Gardiens : Mandanda, Lloris, Ruffier
Défenseurs : Debuchy, Digne, Evra, Koscielny, Mangala, Sagna, Sakho, Varane
Milieux : Cabaye, Matuidi, Mavuba, Pogba, Schneiderlin, Sissoko
Attaquants : Benzema, Cabella, Griezmann, Lacazette, Rémy, Valbuena

Any major surprises? Not really. The one that is a small surprise to me is the inclusion of Evra. The former Manchester United skipper and current Juventus left back did not officially retire from international football, but it felt as if the World Cup would be his last kick at the
What? The retirement home is that way?
can when it came to international silverware. As the Gooner so willingly pointed out, Evra looked past his prime in Brazil. What would he look like in 2 years time at the Euros?? With Digne poised to become the next French left back as well as AS Monaco left back Kurzawa waiting in the wings I do not see Evra keeping a place on the roster. Of course this could be Deschamps giving Patrice his due and one more cap - France will be playing Spain on Sept 4th in Paris, a nice game to end your international career on. 

One name I thought we might see is the one of Ben Yedder. The TFC striker has been someone that is on the cusp of making it to the senior side, were it not for his joining with the likes of M'Vila and Griezmann in their ill fated night club run which lead to a suspension, he might already have received a cap. France, not a news bulletin, is thin up front. With the injury to Giroud that is either a blessing or a curse. Deschamps has the opportunity now to call up and see a number of striker options. Ben Yedder being one of them, M'Baye Niang another such player. While the Euros are still 2 years away, these matches are precious and need to be used to test some of these options.

See you in a week for the start of the international season...I know the Gooner is thrilled.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Merci Kaiser Franck - Ribery retires from national team

Les Bleus will no longer see their world class #7 on the left wing any more. Ribery announced today that he will no longer play for the French national team. This comes as a slight surprise since he had to back out of the World Cup due to injury and the next major tournament will be held in France. Ribery would have been 33 for the next Euros, certainly not an advanced age.

Ribery stated that he came to this decision to spend more time with his family as well as concentrate on his career with Bayern Munich. For Ribery, his international career will be viewed as a good one, yet one that did not live up to what could have been. He was first called up in 2006, then a youngster in France. He was looked at as one of France's up and coming players, but what he would bring to the table was not known. It was more of a selection of a player to get him into the squad, blood him for later tournaments. Instead he played a vital role for Les Bleus in their run to the finals. It was Ribery that scored the still haunted the Bayern winger a year ago! Finally the 2012 Euros saw a French team finally get out of the group stages, but lose timidly against the Spanish Armada.
His best moment for Les Bleus?
equalizer against Spain. His pace out wide opened up lanes for the other French players, most notably Zidane. Unfortunately for the Kaiser, that might have been the highest of his international career. 2010 saw France crash out of the Euros with a grand total of 1 point. We all know what happened at the World Cup in South Africa. While many point to Evra as the ring leader of the mutiny, I think Ribery had much more to do with that fiasco than was reported. There was also a lot of controversy surrounding Ribery and how he treated his teammates, most notably how he interacted with Gourcuff. Something that

In none of these tournaments did Ribery truly shine or live up to his potentially - like he showed for Bayern Munich when he came close to winning the Ballon D'Or. So we close the chapter on Kaiser Franck and the French national team. Following on the heels of Nasri announcing the same, Deschamps loses another player that he can select. But like Nasri, this might be a blessing in disguise. Ribery has shown signs of breaking down - see his missing the last World Cup due to injury. He would be 33 at the next Euro. Again not over the hill, but maybe a little long in the tooth, especially considering that there appears to be an heir to the left side of the formation - Griezmann. DD can now focus on allowing his new left winger to develop and establish himself in the role. It was a joy watching Ribery bombing down the left side for Les Bleus. Alas it did not all come together for him and the national team at the right time.

Better to retire a year too early than hang on a year too late.

Merci Kaiser Franck.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Nasri no longer in the blue for France - a complicated and wasted talent

Rumors are abound that Samir Nasri will soon announce his retirement from international football. No surprise. The current Manchester City midfielder has had a love - hate relationship with the French national team. Really more of a hate and tempestuous
The Lost Boys
relationship. Nasri is part of the French class of '87 - a collection of players born in 1987 who won the U-17 Euros for France. This class included the likes of Benzema, Ben Arfa, Menez and Matuidi (Matuidi did not make the U17 squad, but is part of the 1987 generation) in addition to Nasri.  Not a bad collection of talent. But Nasri is a perfect example for this generation - world class talent, but failure to live up to lofty expectations.

Nasri first broke onto the senior international scene when Domenech in March of 2007 against Austria. He was a key catalyst to get France qualified for the Euros in 2008. He infused a new level of youth and offensive panache France needed with the retirement of Zidane. I remember him playing a vital role in a win over Ukraine. Nasri would then find his way to the Euros in 2008. One of the two Euro tournaments Nasri would play. And one of two tournaments where his off field antics would be far more memorable than what he did on the pitch. Most notably in 2008 was his apparent lack of respect paid to French veterans such as Henry and Gallas. The fact that Gallas would refuse to shake Nasri's hand in the Premiership speaks of the riff between the two. Granted, some of this childish behavior is not one sided. Nasri would miss the 2010 World Cup - something that was probably to his benefit, then again he would have fit right in with that dysfunctional squad. Laurent Blanc would call up the mercurial midfielder once he took over the reigns. Inserting him into the heart of his formation that would take on the 2012 Euros.

Once again Nasri was more remembered for his antics than his dribbles. Scoring the equalizer against his Manchester City team mate - Joe Hart - Nasri then went on a little
Ah Samir...at least you choose the correct finger
celebratory run and made a motion to the press corp to "shut the f*** up." This gave Blanc a "fun" challenge of spin control rather than focusing on the sporting side of the tournament. France would eventually crash out in the 1/4 finals to the eventual champion Spain.

Most recently Nasri was left off Deschamps' World Cup squad, which created a minor controversy. Mostly with former France captain Vieira as well as Nasri's girlfriend! But who can really blame Deschamps choice? Nasri was not a lock to be a starter in DD's 4-3-3 formation. Even had DD used a 4-2-3-1 formation, there was no guarantee that Nasri was a lock to start. This did not sit well with the Samir. And he made this very know to anyone that would listen. Of course he would qualify his outcries by stating "any player worth their salt would want to start." True. But any national side will invariable have club stars who are not starters. Alas, Nasri's ego would not allow him to play nice in the sandbox. But his play on the field didn't make him indispensable either. Such is the story of the '87 players. Le Petit Prince - Ben Arfa has always had bags of raw talent but cannot seem to put it all together consistently. Same for Menez and one might even argue Benzema who has not lived up to the flashes of brilliance he teases us with.

So Samir appears ready to ride off into the sunset. Merci for the 41 caps you won for your nation. But you only have yourself to blame for not being a mainstay for Les Bleus.

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