Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The "Second Half" - France vs Georgia

French national team manager Domenech told his players that the victory over Ukraine only represented the First Half...the second half would be the match against Georgia. After that they are off for summer break.

Tomorrow's match at Auxerre between Les Bleus and the former Soviet Union nation, should be a victory for the French. But this international football and many things can happen...look at Italy's 2-1 victory over the Faroe Islands this past weekend!

I am glad to read the players saying the right thing, that they are not overlooking this match and that once the final whistle sounded this past Saturday they were all focused on the Georgian match. So how will Domenech line them up?

First, Coupet is out due to a minor injury meaning Landreau will himself tending the goal for Les Bleus, I will not lose sleep over this.

How about the rest of the team? This is how I would line up les Bleus: in a 4-2-2-2....go on the offense from the get go and put the game out of reach early. Please don't give us another France - Lithuania where we had to wait to the dying minutes for the liberating goal.

Goal - Landreau, no brainer (although Frey playing would not make me lose sleep either)
Defense - Abidal, Thuram, Escude (Gallas was doubtful for the Ukraine game so why not give him a rest, although every time he sits France have lost recently....more useless trivia) Sagna (give the Ligue 1 defender of the year his first cap in front of his home crowd).
Midfield - Makelele, who just stated his desire to carry on for country, playing in front of the defense. Partner him once again with Toulalan and the holding midfield should be fine. In front of these two I would slot Ribery and Nasri. Allow them to roam the pitch and support the two strikers up front.
Strikers - Anelka...what can you say, he is becoming more and more indispensible to the National Team. Partner him with Cisse who is returning back to Auxerre. Cisse has been chomping at the bit for a good performance in Blue, this could be a great occasion to allow the former Auxerre sniper to shine.

I might even decide to take out Toulalan and slot in Malouda, put 3 attacking midfielders with Makelele in cover. Why all this offense? Simply because I believe Georgia will look to pack in the defense so France will need a variety of weapons to try and pry open what should be the defensive wall infront of the Georgian net. The Ukrainians this past weekend did the same but at least had one striker high on the pitch, Georgia may have all 11 behind the ball. With Cisse and Anelka pressuring the defense, channels should be opened for the dribblers - Nasri and Ribery.

This game is vital for the French, nothing other than 3 points would be acceptable, even if it has to come in the dying minutes. Reason is simple - once we start up Euro qualifiers again in Sept France has a huge rematch with the Italians in Italy and then a rematch against the Scots in Paris. Italy play Lithuania - should get the full 3 points (although they were only able to draw with the Baltic nation during the first round), Scotland - Faroe Islands, again Scotland should get the full 3 points. Assuming this holds true, France could head to the summer break with their 2 point lead on the Azurri and their 3 point lead on the Scots. This would place Les Bleus in a strong position heading to Italy. They would know that they most likely would need 4 points from their next two fixtures to allow them to place one foot into Switzerland/Austria....however a draw or gasp as loss to Georgia and look out...the summer will seem much longer and hotter than should be.

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