Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Blanc provides his list for England match...with another "striking" player from South Africa

For the last France international of the year, next week in Wembley versus England, Laurent Blanc called many of the same players he has leaned on in his rebuilding project....with some exceptions. The return of Eric Abidal is an interesting inclusion. The list:

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

Défenseurs : Eric Abidal (Barcelone), Gaël Clichy (Arsenal), Bakary Sagna (Arsenal), Philippe Mexès (AS Rome), Adil Rami (Lille), Mamadou Sakho (PSG), Anthony Réveillère (Lyon)

Milieux de terrain : Yohan Cabaye (Lille), Alou Diarra (Bordeaux), Florent Malouda (Chelsea), Yann M’Vila (Rennes), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille), Samir Nasri (Arsenal), Yoann Gourcuff (Lyon)

Attaquants : Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Dimitri Payet (Saint-Etienne), Kévin Gameiro (Lorient), Guillaume Hoarau (PSG), Loïc Rémy (Marseille)

No major surprises in the list. Still no Evra - last game of his FFF suspension - he will be eligible to return for the first match of 2011 against Brazil. Also no Ribery, because he is still recovering from injury. Alou Diarra gets the call even though he has been suspended by Ligue 1 due to his actions towards an official - he had a physical altercation after receiving a red card.  Clearly signals that he has the potential to be one of Blanc's core players. It will be interesting to see if he also retains the captain's arm band.

The biggest surprise is the return of Eric Abidal. While the Barcelona defender avoided disciplinary action based on what transpired in South Africa, he found himself in international football Siberia for the first matches of Blanc's tenure. However there has never been any denying in his talents, the main issue was the way Domenech utilized the defender. Rather than playing him at his natural left back, he was always slotted in central defense by Domenech, a role Abidal was clearly not comfortable with. Blanc has made it clear that he selected the left play left back. Clichy has been the left back of choice recently for France and has done an admirable job, however his performances have not cemented him in that position. With Abidal back in the fold, there will be some competition to take over that role. Evra has not had great performances for Manchester United, however assuming he returns closer to form, he will be back in the mix as well for left back. Add to this Tremoulinas and you have a wealth of options for left back, sometimes having too many choices means you have none! But I trust that Blanc and the play on the field will make clear who will take over the left back role for Les Bleus.

Much will be determined during the practices at Clairfontaine see how Blanc will align his team for next week's match. My guess is the following line up will be rolled out onto the pitch, formation will be a 4-2-3-1:

Clichy - Mexes - Rami - Sagna
M'Vila - ADiarra
Malouda - Nasri - Valbuena

Blanc might go back to the 4-4-2 diamond, take out M'Vila and slot in Gourcuff at the top of the diamond, move Nasri out to the right (similar to his role at Arsenal) and shoulder Benzema with Hourau/Remy and place Valbuena on the substitute bench. Abidal might also be slotted at left back over Clichy, but I think Blanc will lean on many of his Premier League players in his starting line up - Clichy, Sagna, Malouda and Nasri...

It will be an interesting test for Les Bleus. The problem with these friendlies, other than the fact my fellow podcaster Gooner does not like them, is the timing - is that it comes at the end of the international season (a World Cup one at that) and the middle of many tough domestic seasons. Not sure how much the players will have left in their legs as well as in their compete level. The fact it is France v England provides a natural incentive in terms of rivalries.

I hope it is a good game, I hope no one picks up an injury....but I have a feeling we might see a drab 0-0 draw.

Allez les Bleus!


Philip said...

I think Walcott will score the game will end 1-1

GFC said...

Who will score for Les Bleus?

Anonymous said...

A propos of nothing is this the first game Les Bleus will be debuting their new Nike kits, or is that the Brasil game?

GFC said...

This will be the last game France is kitted out by Adidas.

The France v Brazil match will be the first match for France wearing Nike. Which I am sure was no coincidence since both nations are supplied by Nike.

Anonymous said...

quite happy, I'm going to be there. Had to get tickets amongst the england fans, but I assume I won't be far from other french. If not, I'll keep a low presence. (assuming the FA ever sends me my tickets)

Expecting France to win.

Jean-François Racinet said...

I agree with your lineup entirely except for Nasri. I think Blanc perfers Gourcuff to Nasri, especially in matches against offencive opponets with a more open field. I guess the only way I can see Nasri starting is if Blanc wants to play premier league players, who know English football well.

My prediction is an optimistic 1-3 win for France.

GFC said...

I think the Nasri v Gourcuff debate is an interesting one. I could see both on the pitch with Nasri playing wide on the right. However based on the last few France games, I think that Blanc has more faith in Nasri pulling the strings and using Gourcuff as a "super" sub.

At least for now, this could and should evolve.

philip said...

either Malouda or Nasri. Malouda is tied as the top goal scorer in the epl right now and is due for another goal.

Anonymous said...

I don't like the 4-4-2 (with midfield diamond) against England. It's too narrow and leaves Ashley Cole too much space. I think Blanc will (and should) go with the 4-2-3-1. The right-sided attacking midfielder should be someone who can cope with Cole defensively and who has the pace to make Cole pay for moving forward without caution. Maybe Loic Remy?

GFC said...

Could we see Nasri on the right side? He is accustom to the marauding Cole and would force Cashley to hold his defensive position, with Sagna as the right fullback. It would be a Chelsea v Arsenal match up! I think it will be interesting if Glen Johnson is on the other flank, we all know he runs one way - forward. Granted he has been sidelined for Liverpool so might not make the trip.

The players that Blanc has selected make the 4-2-3-1 appear to be the formation of choice. We shall see.

Jean-François Racinet said...

I actually feel confident that France can beat England. France are in a great situation with 3 wins in a row. England are riddeled with injuries and I think Capello will be forced to play young players who he doesnt normally play. Even though its just a friendly it is a huge confidence boost if France get the win.

Anonymous said...

i hope it's not arsenal v. chelsea where we are arsenal...

GFC said...

I think the game will be a good test for Les Bleus, but I am not going to take too much from the match. I just fear that neither side will be too motivated to look for the win and Capello will most likely run out a youthful and inexperienced look for caution to win out.

As for Les Bleus - I think the 3 wins are positive, but let us not get too carried away. Wins at home over Romania and Luxembourg, while important since they count towards something, are still against lesser opponents. Playing against England in Wembley is a different challenge. I think it will be much more important for Les Bleus than England to show well in this match. The end result is not the most important but more are they applying what Blanc has been teaching and putting in place...I think a bigger test (master of the obvious) is the next one versus Brazil. Plus they will be wearing new kit from Nike!

Jean-François Racinet said...

The England squad was just annouced by Capello. Looks like he's on our team! He completely overlooked Davies.

GFC said...

Capello has made some interesting decisions for the squad that will face France this week. With only 2 days of preparation with domestic football starting right back next weekend this match seems increasingly unnecessary.

For once I will agree with the Gooner when it comes to internationals, this one is poorly timed.

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