Thursday, September 30, 2010

Blanc announces French list - Gourcuff and Nasri on the list but on the field?

Another round of Euro qualifiers are right around the corner. France will face Romania and Luxembourg, both at home, the first in Paris and second in Metz. After a dominating performance away to Bosnia last round, France will head into these two matches looking to equal that performance and not replicate the misstep versus Belraus. Laurent Blanc announced his list this morning:

GARDIENS : Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Cédric Carrasso (Bordeaux)

: Bacary Sagna et Gaël Clichy (Arsenal/ANG), Adil Rami (Lille), Philippe Mexès (AS Rome/ITA), Mamadou Sakho (Paris-SG), Benoît Trémoulinas (Bordeaux)

: Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille), Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid/ESP), Alou Diarra (Bordeaux), Yann M'Vila (Rennes), Abou Diaby et Samir Nasri (Arsenal/ANG), Florent Malouda (Chelsea/ANG), Blaise Matuidi (St-Etienne), Yoann Gourcuff (Lyon).

: Kévin Gameiro (Lorient), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/ESP), Loïc Rémy (Marseille), Guillaume Hoarau (Paris-SG), Dimitri Payet (St-Etienne)

Notable absentees - Ben Arfa, Toulalan and Menez. The Newcastle man scored a screamer earlier but has not be consistent, while the AS Roma player has not had enough time on the pitch for Blanc. Finally Toulalan is a shell of his former self and the move to central defense and back to the midfield has not helped his cause. He clearly has fallen in the pecking order behind M'Vila, ADiarra, LDiarra and Matuidi when it comes to defensive midfielder. How times have changed.

No surprise that Gourcuff and Nasri find their way back into the squad. Equal not surprising is that Payet will make his first appearance for the senior squad. How could he not, he is lighting up Ligue 1, 7 goals already and is one of the main reasons St Etienne find themselves in first place.

The big question for Blanc will be what to do with his midfield? The defense is straight forward:

Lloris in goal, Sagna, Mexes, Rami, Clichy on the back line.

But does Blanc go back to the 4-3-3 that worked with such success at Bosnia? Or does he tinker now that both of his play makers - Gourcuff and Nasri are back in the squad. If Blanc does opt for the 4-3-3 does he remove Diaby or ADiarra for a more offensive player - Nasri or Gourcuff? I could envisage the same 4-3-3 formation which might be more of a 4-2-1-2-1. M'Vila and ADiarra are the deep lying holding midfielders with Gourcuff pulling the strings, but from a deeper spot on the pitch. Malouda on the left and Valbuena/Nasri on the right supporting the lone striker - Benzema.

Gourcuff played a deeper lying play maker under Blanc at Bordeaux - similar to Pirlo with Milan - almost in between M'Vila and Diarra who are Gourcuff's "bodyguards" doing a lot of the dirty work recovering the ball and allowing Gourcuff to have more of the field to work with. Malouda and Valbuena/Nasri can bring more width to the pitch and if it is Nasri on the right he has a natural link with Sagna based on how they play together at Arsenal. Finally, Benzema has earned himself the right to build off his last performance against Bosnia to man the top of the formation on his own.

Blanc is starting to get his entire effective available to him for the France matches - only Ribery and Evra remain on suspension, plus the Bayern player is injured - the question remains as to what system Blanc looks to leverage with the addition of Gourcuff and Nasri.

France have to look to emerge from these two matches with the full six points. They will beat Luxembourg, there is no alternative...I hope I don't have to eat crow on this one! The key is the Romania match. Playing at home should give Les Bleus the full three points, although during the last round of qualifiers against Romania, France could only muster 2 draws against the same Eastern European nation. It will be interesting to see how things evolve as we draw closer to the matches, what formation Blanc favors. Let us hope they continue to build on the Bosnia match and not regress to the Belarus match!

Allez les Bleus.


Anonymous said...

Against Romania, I like the 4-3-2-1:




Same defense + Lloris

Gourcuff is not in form, so he shouldn't start. The 3 CMs controlled the game against Bosnia. We will dominate possession again, but FBs will have to get forward to provide width. Plus, we have Arsenal on the right side. If this formation lacks firepower, bring in Gourcuff (in a 4-2-3-1) or Valbuena (in a 4-2-1-3, with Nasri in the CAM spot and Valbuena at RW).

GFC said...

Good points. I think the Bosnia game demonstrated that having a 3 man midfield of M'Vila, ADiarra and Diaby provided a high level of energy and shut down any offensive opportunities for Bosnia. Against a team like Romania could have the same result putting a lot of high pressure on Romania, forcing mistakes and getting the ball back higher up the pitch. Also agree that Gourcuff is not 100% in form, so might not warrant the start.

philip said...

I think Menez and Toulalan should of been called. I saw Toulalan play this week and he was impressive. But M'Villa has been excellent and I understand why he wouldn't want to change from the last game.

I just think that they could have Toulalan for a sub just for emergency.

Also when was the last time when France vs Romania played it didn't end up as a draw.

GFC said...

Philip, good point about Romania. I cannot remember the last time the game has rendered the full three points for France! Might have to reach back to the Platini epoch...joking. Euro 96 they were drawn in the same group and France won that match 1-0 from a Dugarry goal. It does feel that in recent history the match ends in a draw.

As for Toulalan, I think he is clearly down the pecking order. Blanc seems to value Lass or Matuidi as the cover for M'Vila and ADiarra as the primary holding midfielders. I am sure that all is not lost for Toulalan, but he will need to string some good matches together. Also I am sure that his participation in the World Cup strike has not helped his case in the eyes of Blanc.

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