First of all the list:
Gardiens : Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Cédric Carrasso (Bordeaux)
Défenseurs : Eric Abidal (Barcelone/ESP), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal/ANG), Adil Rami (Lille), Mamadou Sakho (Paris-SG), Patrice Evra (Manchester United/ANG), Anthony Réveillère (Lyon), Younes Kaboul (Tottenham/ANG)
Milieux: Alou Diarra (Bordeaux), Blaise Matuidi (Saint-Etienne), Yohan Cabaye (Lille), Yann Mvila (Rennes), Florent Malouda (Chelsea/ANG), Abou Diaby (Arsenal/ANG), Jérémy Menez (AS Rome/ITA), Samir Nasri (Arsenal/ANG), Franck Ribéry (Bayern Munich/ALL), Marvin Martin (Sochaux), Charles N'Zogbia (Wigan/ANG), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille)
Attaquants : Kevin Gameiro (Lorient), Guillaume Hoarau (Paris-SG), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/ESP), Loïc Rémy (Marseille)
|France's next play maker?|
As usual Blanc has a deep set of players to lean on for his holding responsibilities: Diarra, Matuidi, MVila, Diaby and Cabaye. He has options on the left, see above, and some decent depth for the right - Menez and Valbuena, even Nasri in certain formations.
What makes me nervous are his options up front. France seem thin when it comes to true world class strikers. Benzema will most likely be the starting option, but I am not convinced that the secondary options can be relied upon. I am not saying there is not some quality there, but just not the level that inspires confidence.
I will be interested to see what formation Blanc looks to lean on, the game in Belarus may look very similar to the one in Stade de France: Belarus defending 10 men behind the ball and looking for a goal on the counter and set pieces. Knowing that, Blanc might opt for a more offensive formation. Maybe a 4-4-2 diamond, play one holding midfielder, two wide flank players and an offensive midfield player sitting right behind the two strikers. It will also be interesting to see who Blanc turns to in central defense, Mexes is out due to knee surgery.
MVila (or Diarra)
Hourau - Benzema
I can see Blanc leveraging Hourau, looking to get control of the Belarus' 18 yard box and allow him to get crosses from the wide players. Nasri would tuck in behind the strikers, Ribery and Menez will provide the width. Much will be expected of Diarra/M'Vila to do the work cleaning up any loose balls in the middle of the park. Sakho will be expected to find his bearings quickly with the other defenders.
It should be interesting!
Allez les Bleus.