Thursday, May 31, 2012

Another win for Les Bleus - but a big time scare early on

So France march on with another victory in preparation for the Euros. This one much easier than the first against Iceland. Yet it too had some scary moments...right from the beginning!

The Good:
  • Like I stated after the Iceland game...a win is a win. Unlike the Iceland game, Les Bleus came out with their dancing shoes on and quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead and it could have been 3-0 at the half hour mark had Benzema been able to react to a deft Ribery pull back. But the game was much easier for France overall and the victory well deserved.
  • Speaking of Ribery, another goal and really a fantastic match for the Kaiser. Ribery started this match in his preferred left attacking spot. He and Clichy seem to click immediately, the Manchester City left back jumping into the offense allowing width to the attack. On the Ribery goal it was a nice little overlap from Clichy after Ribery had drawn 3 defenders that opened up the space. Ribery was then able to run to the open space left by the Serbian defenders, follow up on a dangerous cross from Clichy and finish with a powerful volley. In addition, Ribery was allowed to float and interchange with Malouda and Nasri, really popping up all over the field. Scoring two goals in two games has to be good for the Bayern man, he looks ready to have a good tournament.
  • One has to give a tip of the cap to Malouda and Nasri as well. The Chelsea man had a wonder goal from distance, showing a willingness to shoot, something too few midfielders seem to do these days. Like Ribery, Malouda allowed himself to run to space and take what the Serbian defense gave him. The same can be said for Nasri. While he tried to maintain his position on the right, he too allowed himself to take what was given. At times two of the midfielders found themselves stacked on the same side, but not an issue when the defense was giving that space away.
  • Lloris was once again solid. It is easy to overlook sometimes the consistency of the Lyon keeper. He was called upon to make some above average saves, in particular on a free kick early in the second half. His play and steady hand will be vital to keeping the French well grounded from the back.
  • The wide players - Clichy and Reveillere - both played solid games. Giving Blanc some good options for who he wants to lean on for left and right fullbacks. I still put my money on Debuchy on the right but on the left Clichy could play his way over Evra.
The Bad:
  • Midfield work in progress...why bad? Because there are 11 days until the start of the tournament! I think the Ribery - Nasri - Malouda midfield was good...but I think there remains work to be done. I am not sure that with Nasri you have enough balance between the left and right side. Nasri tends to like to come back to the middle and while Malouda and Ribery pop up on the right, the real threats are from the left. Does this mean Ben Arfa is the solution on the right? I do not know. And that is bad this late in the game.
  • Benzema...might be a surprise but I think his lack of finishing is a bit disconcerting. He had a clear 1 v 1 early on, while the keeper made a decent save, a striker of Benzema's caliber needs to make the keeper work harder for a save. He also had a clear opening when Ribery showed some twinkle toes on the end line, granted it wasn't the easiest ball to handle, but again player of his level should at least get a foot to it.
The Ugly:
  • M'Vilas ankle...ouch. After 44 seconds it looked as if a key part of Blanc's set up could be done. Seeing the Rennes midfield on the bench sobbing after being taken off at the 4th minute was also a tad nerve wracking. M'Vila has become one of Blanc's main players and one quickly sees why when he is on the pitch. He provides cover for the back 4 and adds steel to the midfield. France could go far if he plays and plays well, without him there is definitely a lost element.  Thankfully all reports indicate the injury will not keep him out the Euros. 
  • Yellow cards .... for Mexes. Ribery played in two games and scored twice, Mexes has played in two games and recieved...two yellow cards. These do not mean anything now, but once the games start for real if begins to pick up yellows it will not be good for France. Especially since Blanc only has three natural center backs. Something that could get ugly if not controlled. 

Again a win. First half was very good. France played simple and fast, constantly putting Serbia on their back heels. The second half it appeared that fatigue caught up to both sides and we fell into a lackluster international scrimmage. That is fine as long as you win and do not get hurt!

One more before we start for real.


Anonymous said...

nice analysis. I'm not sure what Blanc had in mind for the midfield in the second half with martin, nasri, menez and ben arfa all on the field at the same time. It seems they all play the same position, and the formation (I guess it was a 4-1-4-1) was a bit disorganized and the play was ineffective.

Anonymous said...

boss unbeaten record is always not good like 1992 ..france was unbeaten in long time near about 2 year but france did not do well in Euro 92. same thing happened in 2004 euro....france will face tough competition in group stage..



GFC said...

I agree that the unbeaten streak is a bit over blown...but I think that the streak has not been as impressive as the numbers would have you believe.

All the group stages should be a challenge in the Euros...however I think that France has a good chance to get through (more on this when I write my Euro preview!) but I do believe that Les Bleus should be able to get one of the top two slots...well maybe they should just focus on a win first since they have not won a game a tournament since they defeated Portugal in the World Cup 2006 semi finals!

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