Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Equipe de France - Blanc leaning towards a 4-4-2 to start against Norway

Based on the rumors coming out of Clairefontaine, it would appear that Laurent Blanc will look to a 4-4-2 "en losange." Basically means the midfield drops to a diamond shape with a deep lying holding midfielder, an offensive midfielder and a right and left midfielder - technically not wingers since they are not expected to play as wide as they might in formations such as 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-3-2...

4-4-2 Diamond: notice the side midfielders are not as wide

Based on the formation, the midfield diamond is much more compact than a flat midfield 4. Therefore in this formation, the wide full backs are asked to bring width to the attack. They are to make overlapping outside runs to the midfield and provide crosses to the strikers. This formation should give the fullbacks channels to attack since the opponent is expected to defend more compact in the middle of the park. Therefore it is crucial that the wide runs from the fullbacks lead to quality crosses. Blanc did practice with a more familiar 4-2-3-1 formation at Clairefontaine...back to the future...but it would appear that he will lean on the 4-4-2 diamond.

So who are the players? It would appear that the keeper and the back 4 are the same regardless of what formation Blanc has been using in practice -
  • Ruffier in goal no brainer, I think he has a legitimate chance to become the France #2 keeper. I am still not convinced that Mandanda nor Carasso are unquestionably the #2 and #3 keepers for Les Bleus.
  • Fanni - Rami - Mexes - Cissokho as the back line. I think Sakho had a chance, but due to his age I think Blanc wanted to lean on a more senior central defense. This is the same back 4 I thought Blanc would use. I think the player to watch is Fanni. Why? As I posted before, I am not convinced that Sagna is the clear cut right back for France. If Blanc goes with this formation moving forward, the full backs must be able to consistently provide offensive support through good crosses and runs. I am not sure that Sagna's crosses will meet those requirements, he certainty has not made us forget Sagnol. Cissokho will have a chance to show something on the left, but that position is so deep for France it might be a steep mountain to climb. In the middle, I think it is anyone's place to win, I doubt that either Gallas or Abidal will be back in the picture any time soon.
The real question is who does Blanc play in the midfield and up front. Based on the latest Blanc seems to be leaning on the following formation -

Ruffier - Fanni, Mexes, Rami, Cissokho - Mvila - Sissoko, N'Zogbia - Nasri - Hoarau, Rémy

Sending Benzema, Ben Arfa and Menez to the bench. Of course this could change at least 4 more times before tomorrow's game. The real question is does Blanc leverage N'Zogbia/Sissoko/Remy or Benzema/Ben Arfa/Menez to start? My sense is you will see all 6 of these players during the game, just depends on who starts and who will most likely come in at the half. I am leaning towards on the former to start, mainly because 2 of the 3 already started their season with Ligue 1.

I am looking forward to the match see some fresh faces and how Blanc runs the squad. The other big test for France is how they defend the set pieces - Norway brings a lot of height and size - let us face it France under Domenech has never been stellar when it comes to defending set pieces. Something to watch for.

For those that cannot watch the match on television, it will be available on ESPN3 at 3:15pm EST.

Allez les bleus.

13 comments:

jeremy said...

I just hope nothing happens to nasri. Whoever had the idea to stage intl friendlies during the week after/before most european leagues start should be shot. All it will do is cause preventable injuries.

by the way, based on your use of beantown...are you by chance from or located in boston?

Anonymous said...

4-4-2? isn't that supposed to be a dead formation?

GFC said...

@jeremy I am located in Boston, originally from Paris...

As for Nasri, I agree. I hope that none of the players get injured. However having this friendly is important. With European qualification right around the corner - September 3rd against Belarus. Figure most of the managers are going to be new post World Cup so being able to get a game and a few practice sessions before September is invaluable. Of course I am sure the domestic managers see it differently!

GFC said...

I am not sure the 4-4-2 is "dead" I think the classic formation with a flat middle 4 is rare. However clubs like Chelsea still leverage the 4-4-2 diamond, could also be seen as a 4-1-2-1-2 (especially according to FIFA 10).

Anonymous said...

Is this Match Telecast in TV 5(Asia)???

LEkarlokin
Bangladesh

jeremy said...

4-4-2 isn't dead, it's just a starting point. Everything france used to have, formation, coach, players...none of it was working. So you scrap all the bad, and start with the new. New coach, new players, and the most basic formation in football. From there you can adjust and reform.

and funny thing! I'm a french-american living near boston also.

GFC said...

I am not sure the game will be on TV5. I know they are not carrying in North America.

Anonymous said...

yeah, not really a 4-4-2. more of 4-1-2-1-2, which makes more sense than the flat 4 across. a bit narrow, though--needs fullbacks to add to the attack

Anonymous said...

what happened to Lassana Diarra at DM?

Anonymous said...

France dominated possession but created few chances (same as always). Ben Arfa and Nasri were very good; LDiarra was very poor; defense was very shaky.

GFC said...

I would agree with most of the points, except for shaky defense. I thought that Mexes and Rami looked very good paired together in central defense. Cissokho and Fanni had moments where they tried to be a little too showy. I also think in the first half M'Vila looked a little nervous, was not bringing the necessary cover for the back 4.

More of my thoughts in a full post later.

Anonymous said...

Defense was adequate, but Rami very nearly own-goaled in first half. Norway crossed into the box far too easily. But I agree that neither goal was the fault of Mexes or Rami. I wish Sakho had gotten a look.

GFC said...

You cannot blame Rami for that almost OG. That would happen to any center back, the more glaring issue on that play was that no one shut down the ball before the cross. Also had Rami not had that touch, there was a striker right behind him that would have knock it in...

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