Sunday, November 13, 2011

Belgium game ... for how many places?

Unfortunately I was not able to watch the US - France game, the irony is I was in Paris on the 11th, but flew home that afternoon. Went through London...where the plane had technical issues therefore sat in London for an unexpected evening. I was hoping the game would be on, but understandably Sky Sports carried the Portugal v Bosnia and Ireland v Estonia from the first round of play-off. I did see the highlights of the France match, but did not see enough to provide any deep comments. Hopefully I will get a chance to watch it on ESPN3. Of course there is another match this coming Tuesday against a bigger fish - Belgium. I am sure Blanc will look to get as close to his A side as possible against a talented but underachieving Diable Rouge side. Of course the biggest question becomes which players get more time to make a statement ahead of next year's Euros?
Getting ready for a tour of Eastern Europe

So squads will carry 23 players to Poland/Ukraine, I am sure that Blanc has a list for his "core." But there remains a handful of spots open that will be up and this game will go a long way for certain players. First those players I think are part of the core:

Keepers, this is cemented. Short of injury or massive drop in form the three keepers heading to the Euros: Lloris, Mandanda and Carasso.

On defense, I think the following are assured a spot - Rami, Mexes, Abidal, Evra and Sagna.

Midfield will include - Nasri, M'Vila, Cabaye, Ribery and Malouda.

Up front look for Benzema, Gameiro and Remy to be heading to the Euros.

So that means 16 spots assured, 7 to fill.

  • Defense: Assuming Mexes - Rami is back in form, Abidal will slot left and Sagna back on the right (although I think that is not 100% certain) regardless, Sagna will be on the roster. Evra will be the second choice left back. That leaves a right back and most likely 2 central defenders:
    • For me Debuchy has a leg up on Reveilliere for the second RB slot. The Lille fullback gives a more offensive option for Blanc.
    • Sakho and Kaboul will find their way on the roster, the Gunner Koscielny will be odd man out, but could come down to him and his Tottenham rival Kaboul for that last center back slot.
    • Mathieu might have an outside shot at getting back into the squad - especially if Blanc decides to take one less CB and lean on Abidal as an option for center back, so having another natural left back would be cover in that situation, and one that could also play left midfield.
    • Outside looking in - Clichy and Koscielny
  • Midfield: M'Vila and Cabaye look very likely to be your holding/defensive midfielders, Ribery and Malouda will share left winger duty with Nasri either centrally slotted or playing wide right. So there remain a number of questions to answer - playmaker, holding midfield and right sided player:
    • Central/creative midfielder looks like it will fall on Martin's shoulders, since his explosive debut, he has steadily shown an ability to animate the game when on the pitch.
    • Right side to me will still be Menez, even though Valbuena has an outside shot. Menez can be maddening, disappointing at times and other times slicing through defenses with ease.
    • Gourcuff will make his come back, I was debating on whether or not the pretty boy of France football would be left at home. But I just do not see other options for the play making role. Now the OL player might not find himself in the starting line up, but having him available might be too valuable to leave at home.
    • I think Blanc will lean on his former captain - Diarra - over Matuidi as his last midfielder to provide some length and defensive acumen.
    • Outside looking in - Matuidi, Valbuena, N'Zogbia, Payet, Diaby (will we ever see him healthy enough?) and Gonalons
  • Stikers: Benzema is clearly top of the pyramid, with Gameiro and Remy apt understudies. Remy gives Blanc the flexibility of slotting him on the right side. However Blanc will need one more striker - the likes of Ribery and Menez could also be labelled as strikers.
    • Blanc will surprise and bring freshly capped Giroud to the Euros. I think there is a reason why Blanc gave the co-leading goal scorer of Ligue 1 a look friday - he is not convinced that his other options are that great: Cisse, Gomis, Hourau and the like have not excited Blanc. Hourau has not started training again, so difficult to see him get enough time to prove himself. Gomis has not seemed to give enough the few chances he has been granted with France and Cisse is maddeningly inconsistent.
    • Outside looking in - Gomis, Hourau, Cisse and Anelka (he has served his 75 game suspension!)
Of course all this depends on health and form. The game on Tuesday will give those on the bubble more time to convince Blanc they deserve a spot on the plane next summer to Eastern Europe.

Allez les Bleus.


Jeff said...

I could see Kos in the first 11.

GFC said...

Who would he replace?

Jeff said...

Mexes, like in the US friendly. I do not know what kind of shape Mexes will be in during the summer, and of the other options (Kos, Sakho and Abidal), Kos might be preferred.

GFC said...

Mexes had a micro-fracture to his hand so he should be available for the February match against Germany. That injury is minor.

I agree that Kos has a card to play but I think he is getting into the squad, at least on the pitch, late in the game. Had he been getting more time earlier during this run then I would say he had all his chances for getting into the squad.

His time will come.

Jeff said...

If Mexes is up and running, and makes a clear case for himself ahead of the other options, then brilliant. I hope he does. It's been a while, now, though, since he played for France, and Kos just got his first start, and is (at least temporarily) ahead of Per Mertesacker for Arsenal.

Kos is on an upward trajectory. In his best moments, he's an excellent defender. I could see Mexes and Sakho both being in great form, and both starting from the bench. This is entirely based on what I've seen on the pitch, but I could certainly be seeing things all wrong.

At the very least, Koscielny is an interesting player to track between now and then.

I need to see Mexes play again because it's been a while. He was doing really well when Blanc first came in, and I thought he looked like a good bet for captain.

GFC said...

I agree about Kos and Sakho, that could be the future central defensive pairing for Les Bleus. I do think Kaboul has something to say about that as well. And do not overlook Real Madrid defender Varane getting into the mix after the Euros.

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