Sunday, August 01, 2010

France's next generation gives some hope after terrible World Cup

This past week the Finals for the U19 European Championship was decided between France and Spain. Which was won, on home soil, by the French U19 team 2-1 against the fancied Spanish side. Granted France played very strong football through out the tournament notable a 4-1 and 5-0 defeats of Holland and Austria. A good write up on the, also the video high lights of the game, also below.

One aspect of the match is that these two generations met 2 years ago in the U17 Euro finals, where Spain gave their French counterparts a correction winning 4-0.  Some revenge for the French players that suffered that loss. Clearly both sides have some strong talent at the youth level, none more impressive than Gael Kakuta who plays for Chelsea and is more known for the punishment that Chelsea almost suffered for improperly acquiring the young French player from Lens. A small example of the football IQ from Kakuta is the second goal of the finals. He is released through the middle and beats the 2 central defenders to find himself one on one with the Spanish keeper. He forces Alex to make a save on his first shot and is able to chase down the rebound. Here is where he demonstrates a high IQ - he had a chance to strike on goal again, it appears the Spanish goal is vulnerable, however Alex is rapidly moving to cover the open side and Kakuta's momentum is taking him away, his body is not a good position to put a solid strike on the ball. Instead of trying to force a shot and most likely putting a weak shot on net that could be saved
or missing the target, the Chelsea player stabilizes himself and rather than go for goal puts a well weighed cross to the far post where Lacazette easily heads home the winner. A smart play when others might have tried for the glory themselves.

It is plays such as these that have made Kakuta the pearl of the Chelsea youth set up, winning the Academy Player of the Year in 2007. He clearly was the creative center piece for the U19 team and based on what Ancelotti has said, he could see more time with Chelsea in the near future. With the move away from Stamford Bridge by Joe Cole that could very well become a reality - Kakuta can easily play on the wing bringing his pace and creativity to bear late in games. Laurent Blanc has also been present at the tournament so could he be in the France plans in the near future? Of course for all the potential and talent Gael has demonstrated he still needs to develop. Too often players who have showcased well at the youth levels have never been heard from again.

Other players from the French side to keep an eye on - Griezmann who plays for Real Sociedad and was approached by the Spanish federation to see if he would play for Spain the speedy winger played a role in getting the Spanish side promoted back to La Liga, Sunu the striker from Arsenal who may still find himself loaned out to a Ligue 1 side which I think would be best for him and his teammate Coquelin who has been loaned out to Lorient. Finally the fact Lyon had 6 players on the European Champions' roster bodes very well for the former France champion. With the likes of Gonalons who have come from the Lyon development system and should play a big role in this year's campaign.

The win last week coupled with Laurent Blanc running Les Bleus should make the debacle in South Africa a little easier to take...not much....but a little bit!


philip said...

I remember France won one youth cup with gourcuff, menez, benzema, nasri ,arfa,and Lloris but no matter how good the future looks if you have someone like Domenech its useless.

Jose said...

Congrats on the U19 win! Hopefully having Blanc as coach (and not Domenech) will give Les Bleus a brighter future and better results on the world stage.

GFC said...

@philip, I completely agree! At least with Blanc, France have a manager that should understand how to integrate this new generation.

JLP said...

Not to mention Blanc was at the game, watching and plotting for future domination! muah muah muah

GFC said...

@JLP I hope! But let us not get too far ahead of ourselves, many of these young players never amount to anything...

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