Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Aie Aie Aie - Les Bleus limp into last 2 qualifiers

I have been remiss in writing about Les Bleus - travel and work have gotten in the way! But with some airport time I can finally weigh in on what is happening with Les Bleus.  With 2 crucial games left in qualifiers, France find themselves in a precarious position. With the likes of Mexes, Benzema, Gameiro and Abidal out, France and Blanc will be scrambling to find the players and formation to face Albania and then Bosnia. When these qualifiers started and after France had defeated Bosnia away, I thought that they might be able to go into these last two games and already have their ticket punched for next summer. Unfortunately a draw away to Belarus (1 point from the two matches against the former Soviet state) and a lackluster draw away to Romania, finds Les Bleus clinging to a single point lead over Bosnia.

HomeAwayTotal

TeamsPWDLWDLWDLFA+/-Pts
1France France8201320521113817
2Bosnia-Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina8301211512117416
3Romania Romania8220112332106412
4Belarus Belarus922111233365112
5Albania Albania8211013224610-48
6Luxembourg Luxembourg9113004117316-134




Yikes.

France should, that is the operative word "should," at least finish in second which would mean a home and away play off with another second place team...no thanks. France should, again there is that word, defeat Albania in Paris while Bosnia will defeat Luxembourg, setting up a show down in Paris. Where Les Bleus would only need a draw to secure the top spot...sound familiar? Similar to the situation they faced in 1993 - 2 home games away from qualification...only to face Bulgaria and that 90th minute.

A repeat of his first selection would be nice!
Okay let's not focus on the past. Let us look at what we have moving forward. Blanc has mentioned going with a 4-4-2 since he does not seem to think he has a true lone striker without Benzema and Gameiro. Word from Paris is that Remy - Gomis might be leveraged with Nasri on the right and Malouda on the left, I would assume M'Vila and Cabaye would be the central, deep lying midfielders. The back line would most likely have Evra on the left (Abidal does not appear to be fit), Reveillere on the right and Kaboul - Rami as your central pairing. Of course Lloris in goal.

The concern I would have with this formation is who will fill the middle of the park? Will Cabaye slot higher to sit behind the two strikers? Or will Malouda and Nasri be asked to drift inside from time to time, if so this will place greater strain on the fullbacks to provide width to the attack. Or will you see a 4-2-3-1 at times with Gomis the lone striker playing very high, Remy drift out as a right winger allowing Nasri to drift back to the middle of the pitch? Could be a way Blanc gives his offense some flexibility to break down what is sure to be a rugged Albanian defense.

It is a bit of a patch work strike force, much of the creativity and threat will have to come from the likes of Nasri and Malouda, neither of which has been lighting things on fire for France. The talent is there for Les Bleus, it is now a matter of can they click the next two games? Otherwise we might be looking at an Ireland circa 2009 situation....no thanks.

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