I think that Blanc will lean on a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation, he might even look to apply the "christmas tree" and go with a hybrid 4-3-2-1 that would morph from his 4-3-3. Blanc might also have his group games in mind, with the tasking of facing some physical strikers - Crouch/Carrol and their height or Ibrahimovic combination of height and power. France has always had problems with set pieces and international football is becoming a set piece type game.
Les Bleus will most likely take 3 keepers, 8/9 defenders, 8 midfielders and 4 strikers. There will be some players that could be mid/stk or play defensively or in the midfield.
This is the one position where I think we know who will be heading to Poland/Ukraine.
Lloris is the undisputed #1 and team captain so fairly certain he is going.
Mandanda and Carrasso have done nothing to lose Blanc's faith. Look for Ruffier to get a pre-selection but I think that will be more for Blanc to get some competition and get a look at the keeper.
Rami, Mexes, Evra, Debuchy to me are all locks, and very likely going to be your starting back 4 with Debuchy slotting on the right and Evra on the left. Debuchy will be able to animate the right channel and re-balance the attack that has been very left sided in recent games for France. As I stated in my last post, I think that the Sagna injury, while terrible for the Arsenal man, might be a good thing for France. Makes Debuchy the likely right back, a more offensively skilled player than the former Auxerre right back.
The tricky question becomes who is the cover for the above 4?
|Surprise selection for Real youngster?|
Now what about the outside backs? There is noise for PSG right back Jallet to get the call but I think that Blanc will reward Reveillere to play second fiddle at right back. On the left side look for Clichy to regain his spot with Les Bleus. Mathieu could make a last minute push, especially because of his ability to also play on the left side of the midfield in a pinch. Another wild card - the youngster from Real Madrid Varane. However, if Blanc had to leverage Varane, at center back I am not sure that he would want to put that responsibility in the hands of a 19 year old. Varane will be invited to Clairefontaine, but will not go to Eastern Europe.
This is where it gets tricky...let us look at the holding spots first:
M'Vila and Cabaye are in. I also think that Matuidi and Diarra are the other holding players that will be called up. Blanc should lean on the Rennes and Newcastle midfielders to be the steel of the midfield. Matuidi and Diarra used as cover and tactical substitution. Mavuba and Gonalons might get a call to Clairefontaine but again not heading to Eastern Europe. The one big loss will be Diaby, a player that gives Blanc what he would want, a midfielder to link defense and offense.
Offensive midfield: Ribery will man the left...other than than not sure. Nasri will get the call up, whether he is the center midfielder or slotted out right will remain to be seen. That also means, who will called upon to animate the right channel? Menez or Valbuena? Both will be at Clairefontaine, but it might be where Blanc determines which player is given the right side. Ben Arfa should not only get the call but head to Eastern Europe. He is one of the few players that can turn a game on his ability to dribble and score. Also, his understanding with fellow Newcastle teammate Cabaye is something to leverage...
Players that have to prove themselves - Martin who has been a bit on the down side after strong showings for Les Bleus, Malouda who will most likely make it as 2nd fiddle on the left side, Amalfitano would offer more creativity...the big question is Gourcuff. The player that Blanc leaned on while at Bordeaux has not found that form...he has only started playing regularly again for Lyon. He has an outside shot...more because of Blanc's knowledge of the player not from what he is showing currently on the pitch. I would vote for leaving him home, but Blanc might surprise us.
There are some locks here as well - Benzema, Giroud and Remy are all heading to Poland and Ukraine. The question becomes does Blanc look for a 4th striker? Or does he push a Ribery or Menez higher on the pitch if he needs another offensive player? Gameiro and Hourau have been struggling with both form and health, for those reasons I think they are long shots if Blanc selects another striker. Gomis has had a decent season but also long shot. A youth player like Lacazette might make a surprise appearance as well.
We will find out more over the next week. Blanc's core will/should not be a surprise, what will be interesting is who he will take - Valbeuna or Menez? Gourcuff? Who will pull the strings in the midfield? Will there be 4 strikers?
Allez les Bleus!