Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Zidane, back with "les bleus"

http://www.lequipe.fr/Football/EDF_Zidane_retour.html

http://www.sport.fr/football/foo/Retour-de-Zidane-les-reactions-45617.shtm

According to reports on his own web site and on other sites, argueably the greatest player to wear the kit of "les bleus" has decided to restart his international career. Unbelievable news for the FFF. An infusion of talent and experience that is what the French needed as they embark on the rest of their qualifying matches. In addition to Zidane, it would appear that Makelele and potential Thuram will throw their hats back into the international arena.

While these three players are on the wrong side of 30, I believe their come backs will be a positive for the French. Domenech can line up the following 4 - 3- 1- 2

Barthez or Coupet in the nets

Sagnol - Boumsong - Thuram - Gallas back line

Vieira - Makelele - Guily midfield

Zidane - behing the forwards

Henry - Trezeguet up front

With Cisse, Pedretti, Givet, Squillaci, Rothen on the bench.

Does this gaurantee a spot in World Cup Germany? No, but it gives Les Bleus a much need infusion of talent it needs to find itself. The problem with the French team was not a lack of talent, but I believe it did not have the proper "bridge" between the golden teams that won the Euro and World Cups and the new generation, led by players such as Cisse, Henry, Trezeguet and Vieira. Adding Makelele gives Vieira the workman like midfielder that frees him up to be more offensive. Zidane will help bridge the midfield and the offense. A possible Thuram addition should stabilize the back line. One of the major problems I noticed watching the French in qualifiers was the disconnect between defense and forwards. Defenders were to warry of moving up and shutting down passing lanes, the midfield had solid holding players and players on the wings but had yet to discover a true "10" to control the middle of the pitch. Zidane coming back into that role should stabilize that situation.

While these players do not have an extensive time left in their legs, they have enough to be useful and extemely beneficial for France. I remember when a past his prime - Roger Mila came back for a Cameroon team during the World Cup 1990 in Italy. His presence and talent brought the Lions to the brink of the WC semi finals, losing a heartbreaker to England. I think the youth on the team will benefit greatly from these players. Rothen, Meriem, Kapo, Dhorasso etc will be able to grow and develop as the pressure of being the midfield general is removed from their shoulders.

Givet, Mexes, Squillaci will benefit from the possible return of Thuram, not needing to be the "patron" on the back line. While Makelele takes some of the dirty work duties away from Vieira allowing him to demonstrate his talents.

Now this move has some inherent dangerous as well. If the French team do not click and fail to qualify many will critise these returns. Some will even say it sets the French back. Others may heap undue expectations to these players, we must remember that these are not the mid- 2o something players that took French Football to the pinnacle of world football.

Expect these players to infuse experience, talent and sang froid this team needs to get to the next level. Qualifying remains a daunting task but seems much more attainable with these players in the fold.

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