Tuesday, May 08, 2012

In, out and on the fringe - Les Bleus for the Euro

Laurent Blanc will start unveiling the list of the players he will be looking at for the Euros over the next week (starting tomorrow). With that in mind the Frog wanted to weigh in on who should go, who is on the fringe, who is out and who might be a surprise.

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?
Blanc will have to pick two amongst the following center backs: Sakho, Koscielny and Kaboul. The PSG man has been relegated to the bench in recent matches and his showing against Lille reminds us why he can be so maddening - poor positioning leads to his foul, red card and PK for Lille. Koscielny has shown well for Arsenal while Kaboul has not be consistent for Tottenham. I think the two center backs from London have the upper hand to get the call.

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!


Anonymous said...

Do you really think Malouda will make the team? I think his days on the NT are over. He rarely plays for Chelsea, and it seems there are better options on the left. I suppose Malouda would bring experience, but there is a lot of competition, and Blanc can only bring 23. I would bring attacking midfielders who can play on either side or in the middle (i.e., I would take both Menez and Valbuena). This would be my selection (it's not much different from yours):


Lloris, Mandanda, Carasso


Debuchy, Mexes, Rami, Evra, Reveillere, Kaboul, Koscielny, Matthieu

Holding MF

Cabaye, M'vila, A. Diarra, Gonalons

Attacking MF (these players can also play as strikers in a 4-3-3)

Ben Arfa, Nasri, Ribery, Menez, Valbuena


Benzema, Remy, Giroud

And this would be my starting 11:




Ben Arfa-Nasri-Ribery


GFC said...

I think Malouda's time with the NT is done, but for some reason I think Blanc might look to keep him around for his experience. I agree that Valbuena would be a good option to play on either side of the midfield. This might also make someone like Mathieu might be the wild card - he would provide cover for both left back and left midfield.

Also if Blanc decides to go with a 4-3-3 he might look to put a muscled midfield with MVila, Cabaye and Diarra....that would make having a Malouda not necessary...we shall see.

Dave in Denver said...

If Malouda doesn't get the call, then how about Griezmann? It's only a matter of time before he is a regular in the squad. He could be a surprise call up. As for Gourcuff, I personally would like to see him get the call. He always seems to play well for the NT and Blanc utilizes him very well. (He and Nasri were a great pairing against England last year!!!) What do any of you think about Giroud and Benzema up front? Possible or not?

Anonymous said...

I think Greizmann is having an excellent year. It is likely that he and Lacazette will eventually get the call-up, but probably not this year. There is too much competition, with Ben Arfa, Menez and Valbuena all having very good years and more experience.

GFC said...

I think that Blanc will look to have one striker - so Benzema will get the nod. Although a Benzema - Giroud pairing could be interesting. It would look much like what Benzema did in Lyon where he was more a deep lying striker, cutting in from the wings. Fred would sit high and hold the ball and Benzema would run on...

As for Griezmann, that is a good call. He showed very well last summer for the U20s...Kakuta seemed to be on the fast track to break into the NT but his recent form has slowed him down. I think that Blanc will stick to his veterans, but look for the likes of Griezmann to start making in roads for 2014 qualifying...

Anonymous said...

As for Gourcuff, he has played very well in the past, but is an extreme long shot. He has been injured and/or ineffective since he joined Lyon. I don't think Blanc could justify it based on Gourcuff's current form.

And as for your suggestion of playing Gourcuff and Benzema together, I think that would be an interesting option as a Plan B. Or it could be Plan A against teams that pack the box with defenders. Blanc tried a 4-4-2 against ultra-defensive teams like Belarus, but the second striker (Hoarau) was ineffective. But with Giroud (who is better in the air than Hoarau), I think it might work.

GFC said...

I think that the only thing keeping Gourcuff in the picture is his history with Blanc at Bordeaux. Otherwise the fact he has been injured most of this season and has only started to play again would leave him on the outside looking in.

Les Bleus cannot make the same mistake made last Euro where an injured and not 100% Vieira was taken. He played 0 minutes, but was always seen as the savior for the midfield. Blanc has enough creative options in the midfield, while there is not clear cut #10 he has some games to figure it out.

I think that the midfield might be well served built on the Cabaye - Ben Arfa axis, replicated some of what they have done at Newcastle. Leverage Ribery and Menez/Valbuena to animate the wings and M'Vila as the sentinel at the back.