Thursday, August 04, 2011

La Rentree, back to work - Blanc calls up his 23 for the Chile match August 10th.

Laurent Blanc has called up 23 players for next week's friendly against Chile. Not too many surprises, the list:

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

DEFENSEURS : Eric Abidal (Barcelone), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Younès Kaboul (Tottenham), Adil Rami (Valence), Mamadou Sakho (Paris-SG), Anthony Réveillère (Lyon), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal).

MILIEUX : Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle), Alou Diarra (Marseille), Yann M'Vila (Rennes), Florent Malouda (Chelsea), Marvin Martin (Sochaux), Blaise Matuidi (Paris-SG), Samir Nasri (Arsenal).

ATTAQUANTS : Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kevin Gameiro (Paris-SG), Guillaume Hoarau (Paris-SG), Jérémy Ménez (Paris-SG), Loïc Rémy (Marseille), Dimitri Payet (Lille).

The one "surprise" is no Ribery and Payet is back in the line up. Ribery is slowly recovering from an ankle injury so not really a surprise that he was left at home. Blanc has called up a number of players that work the wide channels on the pitch - Malouda, Menez, Remy and Payet. Arguably Nasri can also play on the wide side, and really only one pure central offensive midfielder - Martin. with Gourcuff still on the shelf, this is really the Sochaux play makers time to make his mark on Les Bleus. Also there is no Mexes due to injury, so it will be interesting to see how Blanc navigates his central defensive pairing.

It will be interesting to see how Blanc works his formation, I have a feeling we will see Blanc lean on the 4-2-3-1 and look to place Martin in the middle of the formation. Blanc will have to be thinking ahead to the start of qualifiers with tricky away ties against Albania and Romania. Blanc will need to focus on the following 3 potential problems prior to the Euro matches:

  1. Central defense - with Mexes recovering from knee surgery who will shoulder Rami? Kaboul? Sakho? The PSG captain was seen as the natural replacement, however his last few matches for France have not infused tremendous confidence while the Tottenham man has surprised with his form.  I am sure that Blanc will give both players 45 minutes with Rami to see who makes the most sense.
  2. Who will be the playmaker - the natural choices are Martin or Nasri, or will Blanc look a particular formation that will dictate where the play making comes from? Might he go back to a 4-3-3 and look for 3 more defensive minded midfielders and look for his wide players to provide the offensive creative play? The 4-3-3 worked well in Bosnia but Blanc has not looked to play this since that match.
  3. Where will the goals come from - Benzema appears to have the lone striker role sewn up, especially since reports are he is the best shape of his playing career. However Gameiro was very influential in the last matches for France and could offer a different look up front. Les Bleus and Blanc still need to work out the front of their formation and where they will get a regular stream of goals.
For the match against Chile I see the following: Blanc will go with a 4-2-3-1 for part of the match. Look for the following starting line up:

Lloris - Abidal, Rami, Sakho, Sagna - ADiarra, M'Vila - Malouda, Nasri, Menez - Benzema

I see Kaboul getting 45 minutes for either Rami or Sakho, but I have a feeling the Tottenham man will spend a good part of his time partnered with Rami. I would also expect to see Martin spend some time in the middle of the formation as well as a potential 4-3-3 with a front line of Malouda - Benzema - Menez and a midfield where Martin might slot deeper or Cabaye partnered with M'Vila and Diarra. Finally, look for Gameiro to get some time up front either as the lone striker or in the high line of three in a 4-3-3.

Chile will prove to be a good challenge for Les Bleus. The South American side will be a stern test and will be interesting to see how they line up after a Copa America  and will the likes of Sanchez line up?

I do fear a rather bland game, most players will be still in the middle of their preseason training. But this match and its lead up will be vital for Blanc as he gets ready to finish out Euro qualifiers. Another interesting note - 5 players from PSG! That was usually the case back in the 1980s, but such a strong showing from PSG has not been seen a long time (granted 3 of those players just signed with the club - Gameiro, Matuidi and Menez)

Allez les Bleus.

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