Thursday, October 13, 2005

WCQ recap

So after 2 years of world cup qualifying we finally have some clarity in Europe. Many teams that were in trouble a few months ago - France, Spain, Czech Republic, England etc have more clarity as to where they will be next summer.

France wins its group. On paper this should have been much easier than it turned out to be. France started off the campaign poorly, drawing at home against Israel, Ireland and Switerland. The return of Zidane, Makelele and Thurman sparked France to a big win vs Ireland at Landsdowne road. France still needed to win on the last day agains Cyprus 4-0 to guarantee top spot in the group. Watching the game yesterday, I was wary that we were playing Cyprus, but at the same time happy to see a motivated French team knowing what it needed to do and actually going out there and executing. Please note that I am well aware of the level of competition the French were playing, but this is still a team that almost held Ireland to a draw a few days prior, so take the commentary in stride:

Zidane was his usual maestro, while he has lost a step (a few times he got blocked by defenders when a few years ago they would not be able to touch him), he remains the director of the team. Gouvou actually surprised me with his play on the right wing. He was constantly threatening Cyprus with his runs and crosses, he did miss a golden opportunity to score in the sceond half but overall a solid game. Cisse, he had countless chances to blow the game wide open, the most egregious being a solo break away in the first half when rather than trying to dribble around the keeper he took a poorly placed shot from inside the penalty box. His speed and presence threw panic to the back line, but his lack of finishing touch is troubling. I believe this is related to his lack of playing time with Liverpool, meaning I hope he gets somewhere where he plays regular first team football. Sagnol, he showed me again that he is a great right back option. He defends well and more importantly is extremely dangerous when making runs on the right wing. I cannot think of another right back that is so deadly with his crosses from all ranges of the pitch. Coupet, I think he deserves the number 1 jersey for the French. Barthez remains a great keeper but his "decision" making has become more questionable...Coupet is solid, making all the saves needed and providing the defense and midfield confidence that he will back stop the team.

I think this team has a chance to do well in germany, but they will need to really use the next 6 months to figure out the roster, system and overall strategy to go far in Germany. This remains a daunting task for Domenech, overall I think this "struggle" to qualify will be better for the French than if they went through undefeated.

More thoughts later on the rest of the WC qualifiers

No comments:

There was an error in this gadget