Monday, June 11, 2012

France v England kissing your sister

Well I guess I have some predictive abilities...I smelled the draw. What I didn't smell was England playing like Greece circa 2004, parking the bus, a trailer and a few scooters in front of their goal!

The Good:
Served well as lone defensive MF
  • France didn't lose...I realize that isn't something that is great to hang your hat on, but I could see the Three Lions getting a late goal on the break after Les Bleus were pushing for the win. France has gotten a point from their biggest rival in this group. Now they have a chance to get points against the co-host Ukraine. Get a point and move on. England looked dangerous through out with regards to beating Les Bleus on a counter, the fact the French defended against this is positive.
  • Diarra was huge. Granted his defending was questionable for the England goal - he allowed Lescott to run almost free to head in the goal. Otherwise Diarra was huge. He defended extremely well, he was very active on set pieces - forcing a huge save from Hart - the way he played would make me question whether M'Vila will slot back into the starting line up for the next game!
  • Ribery and Nasri both looked very lively and gave the English defense some real problems. The Manchester City man gave Les Bleus the point with a long range effort that beat his teammate to the near post. They both has some nifty touches where they almost sprung Benzema. The one problem - too often they found each other bunched up and without space.
  • Taking shots from distance, I realize that the great Alexi Lalas made some dismissive comments about France taking shots from distance. However I think that France forced Hart to make some decent saves. When a team defends with 8 field players in the box and gives you space you need to take what is available. Shooting from distance, when you put the ball on goal, will lead to good things. I am sure Lalas believes that someone like Landycakes would just dribble through the entire defense...France should continue taking these chances, but just need someone to crash the net. In addition, France was putting shots on goal...rather than ballooning the shots into row Z...oh and yes....France's goal came from a shot from distance by Nasri.
  • England's right back Glen Johnson played a wonderful game. He defended well against the attacks from Ribery and also contributed to the English attack. His play and defending forced Ribery to float more into the middle of the park at times actually getting to close to the likes of Nasri allowing the British defense to defend in mass.
The Bad:
Never got to take off the warm ups...
  • France didn't win...Les Bleus dominated this game offensively. France had 8 shots on goal...England 1 (the goal). France had 10 corners to Englands 3. At one point France had 60% possession...that is what you see when a team like France or England play the likes of Barbados! Les Bleus allowed England to sit back and clog the goal box.
  • Blanc's usage of substitutes leaves something to be desired as well. He did bring on Martin and Ben Arfa late in the game, showing his desire to try and get the full three points. But those moves were very late ... less than 10 minutes. I question why he left Giroud on the touch line. Why? England was packing the penalty area - parking a bus in front of Joe Hart. It did not help that Benzema kept dropping deeper to get involved in the game. Why not put in a Giroud who can play on the last defender, who can receive crosses, hold the ball up or be used to distribute high passes? that might have put the English further on their heels maybe getting the second goal. I think Blanc should have been more aggressive with the timing of his substitutions.
The Ugly:
  • Defending of set pieces by France. Once again Les Bleus show a deficiency in this department. England did exactly what they needed to do - defend and look to get a goal on a set piece. The Gerrard kick was well placed, but it was a ball that Lloris MUST come out and play! In addition, what is Diarra doing letting Lescott just run to the spot? Once again this is something to watch for with Les Bleus. I fear that something they have not been able to solve in years will get figured out in a few days! 
  • Lack of speed. What do I mean by this? France has shown something the last few games because they played with speed and urgency. They constantly ran at teams. Granted not the same level as England. But...France was too content to slow down the game, allow England to regroup, rather than taking chances and pushing the ball at the English defense. 
  • Parking the bus...okay I realize that the strategy got England the point they sought. And as the Gooner said, "England is terrible," so I guess it is a good strategy. But it is ugly. I was sent the following from facebook that captures the ugly England tactic - "England make Greece look like '73 holland" I think they mean '74 Holland but the point is very well made!

So both England and France leave this match with one point. England has to feel a bit better as they clearly were playing not to concede. France will be frustrated at their inability to break down the English back 4. The one advantage France have is they face the weaker of the remaining opponents in the next match - Ukraine. And based on what I have seen from the Ukraine v Sweden match, the former member of the Soviet Union is not looking to do any valeting. As for England, it seems more and more that they might be looking to play it safe until their last game when they get Rooney back.

Allez les Bleus!


Anonymous said...

Nice analysis. i have to agree with most of what you said. England played like Belarus (which is not a bad strategy vs. France). Against those tactics, you need an aerial threat, so I can't understand why Giroud didn't get a chance.

GFC said...

At times what I saw was the English back line packed into the box, with another group of 4 protecting the 18yard line, France was just possessing the ball around the perimeter, doing what they wanted. However there was not a single blue kit in the penalty box...Benzema was dropping deeper to touch the tango. Putting in Giroud, who could slide into the British defense to receive a cross could have opened this up...Alas

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