Friday, June 15, 2012

Les Bleus WIN! Finally....

Menez opens the scoring for Les Bleus

Ouf Ouf Ouf...France come away from the Ukraine game with a victory and are top of Group D. For those of you keeping score it has now been 8 games in major tournaments between French victories. Last game was the 1-0 win over Portugal in the 2006 World Cup semi final!  In a game that saw a 50 minute rain delay due to lightning and rain, France put two past the Ukrainian keeper in a 6 minute span. This has to get a rather large monkey off France's back.

The Good:
Diarra making a case to keep his starting role
  • LES BLEUS WON! I do not think you can underestimate this. After the debacle in South Africa and the terrible showing 4 years ago in the Euros, France had to get a victory. That was the least of what one needed to see from the group games. Even if all teams had drawn each game and somehow France got to the 1/4 finals, a victory was the most important first stage for Les Bleus. Just imagine the pressure had France only drawn or gasp, lost, to Ukraine! Now Les Bleus go into the last game knowing that more than likely any positive result will see them through.
  • Goals...granted only two of them. But Cabaye did hit the wood work, Menez should have had a brace, could have should have! But France did get two goals. Both came from some clinical passing from Benzema. Maybe wearing the #10 kit for Les Bleus makes him more Platini or Zidane like! France have 3 goals from 2 games, no  one is going to mistaken them for the French team from the '58 World Cup. But compared to the past two tournaments, I will take the 3 goals!
  • Diarra once again showed his skill and ability as the midfield "destroyer." He was strong on the ball, strong in his tackles and read the game very well. His play will give Blanc a real dilemma, a good one, but a question of should he bring in M'Vila or use him as a late game substitute to shore up his midfield. Not a bad problem to have!
  • Speaking of midfielders, the play of Cabaye was excellent. His first half was quiet but he did his job. Second half he had a fantastic finish, after slotting higher up the pitch when Benzema dropped deeper for the ball. He could have had a brace after a fantastic shot from distance hit the wrong side of the wood work. His midfield partner - Nasri - had another solid game. He was dangerous on set pieces, held the ball very well and was able to provide a safety valve for Les Bleus when need be.
  • The left side of the formation. The change of Clichy for Evra changed the French game. Clichy was much more active charging down the flank, opening up space for Ribery. The Manchester City player also defended very well. Ribery once again showed he had his dancing shoes on. Making some fantastic runs, pick pocketing some Ukrainians and being very active through out the game. Now if he can only get himself a goal! 
  • The Ukrainian keeper...Pyatov kept his side in the game, without big saves versus Menez (1v1 break), Mexes (header off a set piece) and Nasri (direct kick). Without Pyatov Les Bleus might have run off to a 3 or 4 goal victory. He was also assisted by his posts on a powerful strike from Cabaye who can very close to a brace.
The Bad:
Game started under a small typhoon
  • Benzema, okay not bad in the way you might think, but it is clear that the Real Madrid man is getting frustrated at not finding the back of the goal. This might become bad if he starts pushing and forcing his game. Mind you he was the reason for the two goals that France did score. Tactically he seems to be drop deeper on the pitch to get his touches, this takes away any potential pressure that the defense might have to face where he to play off the last defender. Something to watch.
  • Silly yellow cards...both Mexes and Debuchy got yellow cards late on for fouls that were not necessary. These are not smart. Both players will be on a "alert" heading into the Sweden match...if either get another yellow then they will miss the 1/4 finals. Not good. Menez will also be on alert, however where he to miss the 1/4 finals I feel France have more cover with the likes of Malouda, Ben Arfa and Valbuena. Something to watch for next week. I would not be surprised if Reveilliere did not get the start for Debuchy against Sweden, not sure if Mexes will sit nor Menez.
  • French finishing...I realize they scored two and had some clear opportunities, but they need to be more clinical and put one more goal. There was a time after being up 2-0 that France just toyed with Ukraine, rather than go for the goal...let's not forget that French flair sometimes bites us in the arse...Sevilla 1982...
The Ugly:
  • The that was scary. Never seen a professional football match get postponed like that! That was ugly...correct move.
Overall not much to complain about after winning the match. With England beating Sweden, France are in a good position to get to the 1/4 finals. The standings after day 2 -

Group D

France France21103124
England England21104314
Ukraine Ukraine210123-13
Sweden Sweden200235-20

France only need a draw to go through, and can even make it if they lose to Sweden. Of course France should push and look for the win, Sweden is on 2 straight losses and if France get the full 3 points they will most likely avoid Spain in the 1/4 finals.

Les Bleus should get to the 1/4 Finals, barring a disaster...lets hope that the French can build off the good win as well as avoid any players getting another silly yellow and missing the 1/4 finals.

Allez les bleus!

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