Wednesday, October 13, 2010

France 2 - Luxembourg 0: Les Bleus head into the winter on a high note

Oooof, three straight wins, 6 goals scored, 0 goals conceded and sitting atop Group D for the Euros, all is good. Well all is better....with little surprise France defeated their small neighbor 2-0 yesterday to ensure they would finish 2010 in a much better position than was otherwise thought. Granted, Les Bleus still have one more match in London against England on November 17th before the end of the year (that will also be the last time we see Les Bleus wearing Adidas for at least the next 7 seasons). There is not a whole lot to say about the Luxembourg match, France dominated the match, out shooting their opponents 17 shots to 1...that pretty much says it all for the game. The video highlights:

Rather than go into the match, let us look backwards and project forward for Les Bleus based on their last few games.
  • The defense: no goals allowed over the last 3 games. Granted they have a post to thank for keeping a clean sheet against Romania, but no goals allowed remains no goals allowed. So what to make of what was once a weakness for Les Bleus? First appears that Rami - Mexes is working, maybe it is not the next coming of Blanc-Desailly but what Blanc has allowed is for the partnership to take hold. The true test will come over the next 2 matches against England and Brazil. Lloris is solid and remains a strength for Les Bleus. Question becomes are the fullbacks the best options for France? Or will the likes of Evra or Abidal find their way back to the side? Clichy has played well but still needs some fine tuning. Sagna likewise. Revelliere showed a good discipline these past 2 games but not sure he is the answer on the right.
  • France's greatest #10s
  • The midfield: clearly the strength of the squad, but that has always been the formula for Les Bleus during their successful runs. Carre Magique in the 1980s -  Platini, Giresse, Fernandez and Tigana. Or the more recent incarnation with the likes of Deschamps, Petit, Zidane, Vieira, Karembeau and Djorkaeff patrolling the midfield. This new generation has the appearance of finding their core: M'Vila, ADiarra, Malouda, Valbuena, Nasri, Gourcuff and Diaby are all making claims to be the players that will form the next great French midfield. It will be interesting to see if and when Ribery finds his way back into the squad. For now Blanc has a wealth of options to select from, challenge is how to pick the right players and correct balance in the midfield.
  • The strikers. What was once a strength for Les Bleus - Anelka, Henry, Trezeguet, Saha, Cisse to name a few, France had what appeared to be an abundance of offensive players. That is no longer the case. While Benzema is slowly starting back on the goal scoring path, but still needs more time at the club level there is a drop off down the list. Hourau? The PSG striker has not been able to recapture his form from a few season back. Payet? Potential yes, but still a work in progress. Gameiro? See Payet. Gignac? Never convinced he is a full international starter. Cisse? Seems to have been forgotten in Greece. Saha? Up there in age. Trezeguet? see Saha. There is some talent and potential, but the striker role remains one that needs to be watched. Benzema must continue to develop and a #2 and #3 striker must emerge for Les Bleus to take another step in the right direction.
Of course the overall feeling around this team is 180 degrees different that during the World Cup. For that we must all be grateful. What is also very encouraging is that Blanc has a clear strategy for how he wants to build the team, something we sorely missed during the Dumbenech era. Let us see what happens during the next two friendly matches before we start getting the champagne ready. The defense will face two stern tests which will go a long way to show whether or not the Mexes-Rami partnership is strong foundation as well as the fullbacks.

It is all encouraging...if there is any doubt just think back to this summer in South Africa and how that team made us feel!


Jeff said...

The friendlies will be fun, but they don't really matter. France could be terrible in their friendlies, but it wouldn't affect the way I view their chances to win their group.

Still, I'm really looking forward to these friendlies.

GFC said...

Of course they do not matter when it comes to the main goal - qualifying for the 2012 Euros. However I think the games will be very important for Blanc and how his overall strategy is progressing.

Especially the Brazil game. With the firepower that can brought to bear it will be very telling if the back line for Les Bleus can rise to the occasion. It will also be the first match France plays with the Nike kit, do not underestimate the importance that will be placed in that event - especially from a marketing and overall image perspective.

Jose said...

It is amazing to see what can take place with a coaching change, especially when you are trading Domenech for Blanc. It is still early in his career as manager of Les Bleus, but it really looks like they are headed in the right direction. Blanc seems much better at tapping into the talent pool. I haven't gotten a chance to see France play lately, so I am hoping to catch some of the friendlies. Allez les bleus!

Anonymous said...

I think France will play well against England and Brazil (maybe not well enough to beat Brazil, but it should be a good match). France is much better when given the chance to counterattack. It's the teams that pack the midfield and box with defenders that cause France the most problems.

philip said...

I think France biggest problem is when they are playing against teams that will defend, at the very start of the game it feels like time is already running out for them to score. I think if they play a team like England they won't feel the need to score right away and will be less pressured and will probably play much better. But I don't know that could be just me.

GFC said...

The England game might be a downer, why? I can see the English not taking the game too seriously since it will the end of a long 2010 season and the likes of Rooney will most likely not be 100%...much like now! I could see it being a lackluster 0-0 for the Brazil game, I think that will be much more indicative of where France stands. As I stated before, do not underestimate the importance of the game as well - the first game France will be kitted by Nike...should be a good test.