Thursday, November 03, 2011

Equipe de France, in with the new - last chance to impress?

Laurent Blanc unveiled his list for the upcoming friendly matches, a few new faces, some old faces and some old faces missing. First the list:

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

Défenseurs : Eric Abidal (FC Barcelone/ESP), Matthieu Debuchy (Lille), Jérémy Mathieu (Valence, ESP), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal/ANG), Adil Rami (Valence/ESP), Anthony Réveillère (Lyon), Mamadou Sakho (PSG)

Milieux de terrain : Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle/ANG), Alou Diarra (Marseille), Florent Malouda (Chelsea/ANG), Yann M'vila (Rennes), Marvin Martin, (Sochaux), Samir Nasri (Manchester City/ANG)

Attaquants : Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/ESP), Kevin Gameiro (PSG), Jérémy Ménez (PSG), Loïc Rémy (Marseille), Franck Ribéry (Bayern Munich/ALL), Olivier Giroud (Montpellier)

One time wonder or could there be a long term place?
The new faces (relatively) - Giroud and Mathieu. The former is the co-leading scorer in Ligue 1 with PSG striker, Gameiro with 8 goals, with that earned himself a look. With the latter making another appearance for Blanc, and this time I expect him to see the pitch as the opportunity to be cover at left back remains open (thought I fear for the Valence player it will be Abidal and Evra as the two left backs next summer)

Old faces that are not on the list - Evra, Gourcuff, Valbuena and Kaboul. The most "surprising" might be the absence of Gourcuff. He is back in form, while still has not regained his "top" form, one might have considered these upcoming games as an opportunity for Blanc to take a closer look at his overall progression. The door on Gourcuff being at the Euros might be slowly closing. If the last few games are any indication, it would appear that Blanc is going to lean on the likes of Ribery, Nasri, Menez, Martin, Cabaye and Malouda for the creative engine in the midfield. Looking for pacey players out on the wings and a creative engine - Martin or Nasri - in the middle, two players who's style appear to be more on the direct attack and leverage pace rather than the more "Pirlo" type passing of Gourcuff.

Mexes is again absent due to a hand injury he picked up, might his window be closing as well? I doubt it, but I am sure that Blanc will be looking to finalize his central defensive pairing. But the Mexes injury is not one that should keep him out of next summer's tournament.

What will be interesting to observe is what formation Blanc looks to use - with the number of strikers on the list might he go back to a 4-4-2? At the same time he has not had Benzema in a few games and not sure he sees the Real Madrid man with a strike partner rather than being the sole high striker.

These games will go a long way to determining who will be on the list next summer. Much will also depend on which formation Blanc settles on as well. I am sure he has an idea of who the core should be, the question becomes who are the players that will be leaned on for cover.

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