Saturday, September 04, 2010

A double dip bottom for France? Les Bleus lose 4th straight match

Sigh...Les Bleus have not won a meaningful game since they defeated Ireland 1-0...that was last year - November 14 2009. The defeat of Costa Rica was a friendly. Otherwise France is on their 4th straight loss - Mexico, South Africa, Norway and now Belarus. Not exactly Spain, Argentina, Brazil and Germany in terms of powerful international sides....alas. So after a day to mull over what I watched here are some thoughts.

The Good:
  • Um not much good....but the play of M'Vila once again impressed. The young holding midfielder clearly earned more points and impressed with his pace, defensive presence, passing, intelligent positioning and overall game. As I wrote in an earlier post, this might be the tipping point with regards to Toulalan as an international. M'Vila's game could allow Blanc, once he has his full roster, to play a much more offensive midfield and rely on the young Rennes player to be the primary protection for the back 4. He was impressive starting the second half when he jumped a pass and unleashed a powerful shot, something you would not see from Toulalan.
  • Day 1 of qualifying. You have to point to the positives! As much as it is grasping for straws. However we must remember that the qualifiers just started, there are many many more matches to go. France got trounced 3-1 against Austria when they started World Cup 2010 qualification. If France cannot end second in this group then we have bigger problems...sad that finishing second might be the ultimate goal....
  • Blanc is running the team not Domenech. I realize that Le President is 0-2 as manager of France. However I still have much more faith in his ability to turn this around. Let us  not forget this was his second match in charge with important players missing. Granted the honeymoon is over or close to over, but at least the person pulling the strings is capable of getting France back on track.
The Bad:
  • Goals anyone? France's poor showing in front of goal remains a concern. We cannot forget first, that we are without the services of some important offensive players - Anelka, Henry, Ben Arfa, Nasri, Gignac, Ribery and Cisse. When it comes to the first two mentioned they have retired by choice or due to FFF. But even a nation with as much talent as France does not have a bottomless pit of players. In addition, the players leveraged by Blanc up front had 21 caps total amongst them and 4 goals....Saha 18(4), Gameiro 0, Hourau 1(0) and Remy 2 (0)....a far cry from the likes of the players mentioned.
  • The early strategy of playing short corners. Not really sure what the thinking was behind this. With the likes of Diaby, Hourau, Mexes and Rami in the offensive zone why not send crosses in directly from the corner kick?
The Ugly:
  • I have stated this before, but now it is getting a little much but Sagna and to some extent Clichy and their crosses. The Arsenal fullback duo are excellent when it comes to their defensive responsibilities - granted Sagna allowed a Belarus break early in the second half because he allowed a player on sides. However what has gotten a little ugly is their inability to provide consist quality in their crosses. Both Clichy and Sagna have the pace and

    desire to jump into the offense and get themselves into good positions, but the end result - the cross - leaves much to desired. I don't expect either to become Maicon or Ramos, but being able to provide at least 50% of crosses into a real danger zone would be a huge improvement.
  • Dropping 3 points at home. Qualifiers are always a long and grueling marathon, any time you drop any points at home it is not a good thing. Especially when it is against a side like Belarus. A draw would have been a disappointment but at least it would have been a point, but dropping all the points is very UGLY.
  • Still looking for a leader. It was clear to me that Les Bleus had more individual talent on the pitch, but there was a clear lack of leader. Not surprising. When Malouda is your most capped player with 57 and the next are all in the 20s for caps you have a very young and inexperienced team - average age 25. It will be interesting to see what changes when players like Ribery, Cisse, Nasri, Gourcuff and Evra are available to return. However Les Bleus must allow a leader to emerge, I think that Mexes and Rami are starting to show that they can provide leadership at the back, but the team will need the Zidane, Platini, Deschamps or Vieira style player that will take the reigns of the team as a whole.
Sigh, so France continues to have problems. Cannot score, lack a leader, still seem to be finding their style to name a few. After 6 years of Domenech we all knew that the rebuilding would be difficult. Inspector Clouseau left the squad in such upheaval that the work needed to bring things back to the proper level was always going to be a challenge. I am sure that none of us thought it would be easy, but clearly not this difficult either.

Big match in a few days against Bosnia. After Tuesday we will now whether or not Blanc and Les Bleus have Mt Blanc to to climb or something more reasonable.


Anonymous said...

in some ways I think bosnia will be an easier match. bosnia will look to attack instead of packing the midfield with defenders. france will have opportunities to counter-attack.

GFC said...

I think that playing in Sarajevo will be the x-factor, not an easy place to play. I do agree that Bosnia will be more likely to try and take the game to France. The problem is that against Belarus France had plenty of opportunities - Malouda's cracker end of 1st half, Hourau in the second half, Gameiro end of the game, to name a few. They just could not finish. If that continues to plague France at Bosnia then they will still struggle to get the full 3 points...