Wednesday, May 05, 2010

France World Cup squad - Part 2 - Defenders

Now comes the hard part...who should provide the line of defense in front of Lloris et I previously stated I will assume Domenech takes 8 defenders, I might opt for 7 since some of the midfielders I would take could slot back on defense in a pinch and I would rather have greater flexibility in my midfield/striker position. But let us go with 8 defenders...

Who should go to South Africa:
  • Patrice Evra (Manchester United): The left back has become a vital player for the Red Devils and has demonstrated incredible maturity and talent...much different than the player that once controlled the left flank

    for Monaco, for a while his attitude saw him banished in international footie waste land. However now the veteran player is a constant and gives France a legitimate attacking wide full back. Barring injury will start on the left side of the defense.
  • Bacary Sagna (Arsenal): The former Auxerre defender has established himself as a constant in North London for the Gunners. He is a tireless worker and much like Evra brings some additional width when it comes to the attack, pushing up from his defensive slot. His ability to add some offensive punch will be crucial since the right wing for France remains such a question mark. Sagna has received some criticism over his ability to provide quality crosses, while he might not have the ability in that sector as did Sagnol, his crossing has much improved and he gives France two dangerous fullbacks.
  • William Gallas (Arsenal): The man that actually scored the goal to sink Ireland (the Hand of Gaul only allowed Henry to cross the ball) is the closest thing Domenech has to a solid central defender. The former Chelsea man has been battling a nagging leg injury for most of the season, but has declared he will be fit for the World Cup. The question is will Domenech select him since he has not played since the Champions League match versus Barcelona on March 31st and the French manager has stated that he will not take any injured okay....what about Pat Vieira in 2008?? The problem is Domenech has no sure thing at central defense other than Gallas, injured or not. He will be on the plane to South Africa.
  • Eric Abidal (Barcelona): Abidal will most likely shoulder the central defensive responsibility with Gallas. Abidal is not a natural central defender - he tends to man the left fullback role. However he has become the pairing with Gallas by default, I blame Domenech for that gaff - Domenech should have said "Gallas and player X " are my central defensive pairing, and allowed them to evolve over the past few years. Instead he has used some random lottery system to pair the likes of Mexes, Squillaci, Escude, Boumsong, Tresor, Battiston, Boli....along side Gallas not allowing any type of chemistry to evolve....and now we will have to pay the piper. I think Abidal could be a good central defender with Gallas...too bad he has not had enough time to develop any long term understanding.
  • Aly Cissokho (Lyon): The Lyon left back has evolved in leaps and bounds over the past season. Rising from the shadows when he played at Porto, attracting the attention of Milan only to end up at Lyon the player has demonstrated this season why he gained so much attention. He brings bags of pace and has a good offensive side to his game. He should be the cover for Evra.
  • Rod Fanni (Rennes): He is consistently chosen as Sagna's back up, with due reason. Fanni would be better known if he played for West Ham or Everton, 2 clubs he is linked to. He is a strong defender and has a good engine. The one downside is if he is called upon, does he have enough experience at this level? He does have some European experience but clearly not the level of play as does Sagna or Evra. Regardless a solid right back.
  • Sebastien Squillaci (Sevilla): To me the former Lyon central defender should really be the one paired with Gallas. When he has played he has shown a good sense of the game and composure necessary to play the central defensive role. He is strong in the air and would help Les Bleus defending set pieces, alas, while he maintains his place in the French squad he does not seem to have the faith of Domenech to be the starter paired with Gallas.
  • Mamadou Sakho (PSG): How about that for a wild card? However the 20 year old central defender from

    PSG has been knocking at the door of the senior squad. He is incredibly gifted and has matured beyond his young 20 years (he even captained PSG when he was a teenager). Granted he still makes some mistakes on defense, something that you do not want to risk on this stage, but his upside outweighs the risks associated with youth. He may not contribute much on the pitch in South Africa, but what he would gain in terms of experience will serve him and Les Bleus well into the next decade. Henry and Trezeguet were 20 year old call ups in 1998, and both played integral roles in France's run to the title, so why not get Sakho into the mix?
Who Domenech will take:
  • Evra
  • Sagna
  • Gallas - assuming he is healthy
  • Abidal
  • Cissoko
  • Fanni
  • Squillaci
  • Escude (Sevilla) - For some reason Domenech did not see the Sevilla man struggle mightily against Spain or butcher the game against Romania...Escude has the talent but for some reason is a shell of himself when he plays for France.
Others to watch:
  • Boumsong (Lyon) - Ugh for some reason this bad habit of Domenech, I fear, might come back for a finale. I would not be surprised if Domenech somehow decided to bring his binky to South Africa.
  • Ciani (Bordeaux) - The Bordeaux central defender got his first cap against Spain, a tough assignment to say the least. He did an credible job against a very difficult task - Villa et al. He does deserve to be part of France's long term plans but might not be on the plane to South Africa.
  • Tremoulinas (Bordeaux) - Ciani's Bordeaux teammate has been compared to former Bordeaux, Bayern and France left back - Lizarzu. A lofty comparison to say the least. His time will come but not this World Cup.
  • Clichy (Arsenal) - I have always liked the player that replaced "cAshley" Cole, unfortunately the Gunner has been a little injury prone and has slowed down slightly in his progression. However with the likes of Clichy, Evra, Abidal and Tremoulinas the left fullback role has plenty of world class candidates.
  • Mexes (AS Roma) - The enigma of French Football. He has bags of talent yet for whatever reason cannot translate this to the national side...granted Domenech is so schizophrenic that he has never really allowed Mexes the room and time to develop. Alas I fear that the Roma defender's ability and talent will have been wasted.


      Adam said...

      I like this Sakho pick. France needs a physical presence in the back to defend against set pieces (someone like Onweyu for the US).

      GFC said...

      As long as that player is not injury prone like Onweyu! I think that physical player could be Squillaci, too bad he usually finds himself stapled to the bench...

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