Tuesday, August 17, 2010

French mutineers get their punishment, Anelka officially finished with Les Bleus

The FFF has come down with their punishment for the mutineers from the World Cup. Anelka will be banned for 18 games, Evra will be banned for 5 games, Ribery for 3 games and Toulalan for one match. Effectively the ruling has ended Anelka's international career giving him an 18 game ban...basically making him un-selectable for the next 2 years. Les Bleus will have 14 games prior to the European Championships (qualifiers and friendlies) and if they qualify for the Euros, then Anelka would only be available for a semi final game!

Anelka at Wembley
This marks a sad ending to what should have been and could have been a stellar international career. I remember living in Paris when a young 18 year old was poached from PSG by the "professor" Arsene Wenger. The rest is history...Anelka burst on the scene with Arsenal and that commenced a subsequent tour of European clubs (Real Madrid, Liverpool, PSG, Bolton, Manchester City, Fenerbahce, Chelsea, Hollywood FC...last one was a joke) and on again off again career with Les Bleus. He was dropped from the 1998 roster, granted Jacquet already selected 2 young strikers - Henry and Trezeguet for the World Cup. Anelka did find his way back on the side when France won the European Championship in 2000. He would miss the next 2 World Cups, the most shocking was when Domenech decided to take Govou to the 2006 World Cup when France needed to replace Cisse due to a broken leg, until this last World Cup - his first (scary that he played in 1 World Cup...Govou in 2...shocking). A player that demonstrated so much promise as a youngster - many look at his brace against England in Wembley as the game that gave the hope that he would be the great French striker that would carry the team. Alas, the incredible sulk allowed his attitude overshadow his enormous talent and potential. His inability to get along with managers or to even stick around with clubs turned him into the nomad of international football. Fortunately for Les Bleus, they had Henry, Trezeguet and more importantly a Zidane that emerged in 1998 to carry the national side - winning a World Cup and a European Cup (Anelka was on that squad). Not sure where Anelka would have fit into the side, although it would have been an amazing rotation of strikers between Henry, Trezeguet and Anelka in their primes. Nico leaves the international game under a cloud of shame, alas, we barely had a chance to know you.

This will be interesting for Blanc as well with regards to Evra, Ribery and Toulalan. There is some depth at left back - Clichy, Tremoulinas and Cissokho. With 5 games for Blanc to leverage one of the other French left backs, Evra might have a difficult time getting back into the starting rotation. Similar situation with Ribery - there is depth at left wing/midfield. With Malouda scoring a brace over the weekend for Chelsea it would appear his good form from last season has not taken a break. He would be the clear first option on the left, assuming Blanc goes with a 4-4-2 diamond formation. Other candidates - N'Zogbia, Diaby and Menez to name a few. As for Toulalan, fortunately for him, he only suffered a 1 game suspension with M'Vila showing he can more than comfortably hold down the defensive midfield role combined with a more offensive side, the Lyon midfielder would want to be able to get back on the pitch sooner rather than later to hold on to his spot. In addition, Blanc will not be able to call on Gourcuff since he will be serving a suspension for the red card he picked up in the last France game.

September 3rd should be very interesting, how will Blanc continue to build his team with some of the World Cup 23 come back into the list.


philip said...

Is toulalan back in or does that last game he was banned not count? Belarus should be intersting but Bosnia is very scary with a deadly offense. Most Eastern European teams are dangerous and always cause the European power houses problems.

Anonymous said...

In my view, Malouda is clearly France's best player (other than Lloris). He was always better than Ribery, but for some reason he never got the credit. Ribery's 5-match ban will give Malouda the chance to establish himself as the clear starter at LM/LW, and selfish Ribery will either have to play on the right (which I think he should've done in S.A.) or sit on the bench.

GFC said...

@Philip, the Norway game was a self imposed non selection by Blanc so Toulalan will miss the first game of qualifiers - Sept 3rd. I would think he will miss the next game as well since Blanc will have to select players that can showcase for both matches. Not that France have a shortage of holding midfielders...M'Vila, LDiarra, ADiarra, Mavuba, Flamini and Cheyrou to name a few.

I agree that Malouda has been one of France's better players, Ribery remains a key player for future success but he needs to get his head right and Blanc needs to figure out how to integrate him into his scheme. TBD