Thursday, March 22, 2007

France - Lithuania....trap game

This weekend Les Bleus travel to Lithuania for their Euro 2008 qualifier. This is a big time trap game for the World Cup runner ups. A couple of reasons why:

  • The game is on the road, and even though Frane is "ranked" 4th and Lithuania 76th in the FIFA world rankings (any reader of this blog realizes how much weight I put into that 'ranking') world football has become so competitive that any road game is a challenge.
  • Lithuania is no push over, any time that over looks such a nation might get surprised. Which is exactly what happened to Italy who dropped 2 points by only drawing with Lithuania in the first round match in Naples! I think the Italians, coming off their World Cup high, and probably looking forward to the France match rather than focusing on their opponents of the day were surprised (the Italians had to come back from a 1-0 deficit to earn the draw!)
  • France is hurt by injuries. It has been widely discussed that Saha, Henry, and Vieira are injured and Trezeguet has not been selected. Without the last three you are losing mountains of experience, and 3 of the active World Cup and European Cup champions. How will the youth, if thrown into the deep end of the pool, do?
France should win this match, and I think they will. But it will be much more difficult than we all think it should be. I recall a Euro qualifier in 1999 against Andorra, where the defending World Cup Champions, France eecked out a 1-0 victory on a last minute PK from Frank LeBoeuf....France needs to score quickly and not take the foot off the accelerator. I believe that the defense will be very strong and difficult for Lithuania to beat, but the offense is in question. The longer the Lithuanians hold off the French, the harder it will be for the French to maintain their organization in attack.

Les Bleus will need a positive result, with Scotland hosting Georgia (assume 3 points for the Scots, but another trap game with an Italy - Scotland game looming next week) and Ukraine playing the Faroe Islands, guaranteed 3 points, France will need to win to keep pace. This group was seen as a difficult group when it was drawn mainly due to the presence of Italy, France and Ukraine...but with the play of Scotland it has made a difficult group that much more challenging for all the favorites.

Allez les bleus! 3 points are needed!!! Otherwise the pressure will only get greater!

Prediction - France 2 Lithuania 0
Goals from Anelka and Gallas.

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