Sunday, November 11, 2007

Les Bleus - ready for the last push to Austria/Switzerland

I am remiss that I did not comment sooner on the French selections for the upcoming final Euro qualifiers. Once again Domenech surprises us.....well maybe not surprise but more demonstrates his stubbornness.

First here is the list -

Keepers - Frey, Landreau, Ramé
Defenders – Abidal, Clerc, Evra, Gallas, Squillaci, Thuram, Sagna
Midfielders – A.Diarra, L.Diarra, Flamini, Makelele, Nasri, Rothen, Toulalan, Malouda, Ribéry
Strikers – Anelka, Ben Arfa, Benzema, Govou, Henry

Anyone who has watched Domenech select will not be too surprised with his selections and more importantly the names not on the list. Of course no Vieira, Coupet or Sagnol is due to these three players being injured or coming back from prolonged injury time. However, once again, no Trezeguet...what gives? Trezegol is in form with Juventus, finding the back of the net 10 times already this season. It is clear that Domenech has no more use for one of France's greatest goal scorers, least we forget that he sits 3rd on the list behind Henry and Platini. Not sure what Domenech is thinking or what his strategy is with regards to selections. More on this later.

Other points of note - the recall of Ben Arfa. Initially when he was called up for injured players last round it was rumored that Domenech did so to avoid Ben Arfa being tempted to play for his parent's native Morocco. However the young Lyonnaise player showed that he could bring an added dimension to the pitch, with pace and passing from the wing he could act as a late game offensive joker.

What is not a surprise the recall of Nasri and Benzema. Benzema has demonstrated he is the future great striker for Les Bleus, and showed that his partnership with Henry could be something very interesting to watch for next year in the Euros. Nasri has been on the side line for a while, however it is clear that his vision and ability to take on defenders is something France needs as it looks to develop the next number "10".... I do not understand the facisination with Clerc and Squillaci, over players such as Clichy and Mexes. Clerc is not even a undisputed starter for Lyon, and while Squillaci is having a good season, Mexes has done nothing to not get the call up. I do not think that Domenech is looking to retain Clerc as cover at right back for Sagna...since it is clear that Domenech has used Diarra at right back, even when he has healthy backs available. So not sure on why selecting him when he is not even his club's #1 right back.

The other "binky" for Domenech is Gouvou...I realize he had a fantastic brace against the Italians, but he is also not one that is lighting up the domestic season. He can play on the wing, but so do Malouda, Ribery, Rothen and Ben Arfa...

Which leads me once again to questioning Domenech in his thinking and selection process...Domenech publicly stated that Trezeguet was not selected on a regular basis last season due to his playing in Serie B. Even thought he was still finding the back of the net on a regular basis. Yet he will insist on selecting a player that is not playing regularly for his club? How does that make any sense? I realize that the results justify some of Domenech's moves, but I think that the team succeeds despite some of his selections and decisions. Domenech has demonstrated a singular stubbornness and focus that have served him far. However, the qualification is not wrapped up yet. And having to travel to Ukraine in a week is no small task. Assuming it will be typical Ukrainian weather - cold with a frozen pitch - France might need to look to win or draw "ugly." Which means having players that are a "fox in the box" players that can score on long crosses, rebounds, loose balls, or ugly rebounds. I realize that Benzema can do so...but so can Trezeguet. I think that the selector has decided that he wants strikers that can all take on defenders and are all adept at running at defenses. But it might have been nice to have a player on your bench that can come in and score the "ugly" goal you may need to leave Kiev with the result you need.

Domenech has stuck to his guns, hopefully the results will bear fruit and France will be present next summer at the Euros. But I still question his thought process, hopefully the results will prove Domenech right.

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